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Tine Celebrated Auttfror Traveller and Lecturer 

Embellished with a Great Number of Superb Photographic Views 
showing heart-rending Scenes in this Appalling Calamity 






DISASTER without parallel on the blood-stained pages of 
history ; almost a quarter of a million of human beings 
swept into eternity in scarce more than the twinkling of an 
eye ; thousands maimed and bruised and battered, bereft of home 
and family and driven to the verge of madness by their sufferings ; 
millions of dollars worth of property destroyed ; half a dozen 
cities swept away in one supreme cataclysm and scores of lesser 
towns and villages wiped from the face of the earth. 

That is the stupendous story of the great earthquakes and 
tidal waves that devastated Southern Italy and Sicily in the closing 
days of 1908. 

It is the terrible climax of a series of convulsions of nature 
that began six years before, when Mont Pelee with one foul 
breath, blotted out 40,000 lives on Martinique. 

Then came San Francisco, with a property loss and suffering 
heretofore unequalled. 

Valparaiso and Santiago, Chile, next were swept by tii* 
avenging hand of nature. 

Kingston, Jamaica, was scourged till it almost ceased to exist. 

Flame or tidal wave in each contributed to swell the terrible 
total of destruction. 

But Italy's devastation was far greater than any of these, 
Tidal waves followed close upon the most terrific earth shocks 
man ever had been called upon to suffer. Flame added to the 
horror and pestilence stalked over the shattered ruins and took 
its added grim toll of death from the serried ranks of the mind- 
wrecked and nerve-shattered survivors of the earlier horrors. 

The shaken area was almost as large as the State of Pennsyl- 
vania. Throughout this, the most historic and one of the most 
fertile regions of earth, one in every two of men, women and 




children perished within the space of less time than it has taken 
to pen these lines. 

Small wonder that a horror-stricken world stood aghast at 
Italy's agony. The human intellect conld scarcely grasp the 
immensity and thoroughness of the horror. 

After the first shock came a paralyzed lull. Then the world 
fairly leaped to the aid of the stricken nation. 

In every civilized city on the globe money was poured out 
like water for the succor of the survivors. Civilization's debt to 
Italy was repaid a thousandfold. 

The dead were past even exhumation. Buried deep beneath 
the debris of the homes they loved so well, their bones will 
crumble to the dust of the centuries. Nature was the only grave- 
digger countless thousands will ever know. 

Messina, Reggio and their neighboring towns may rise, 
phoenix-like, from their ashes, but it is doubtful. Certainly cen- 
turies must elapse. City and population alike have paid their 
tribute to nature with their lives. It seems to-day to be a death 
that can know no resurrection. 

Men are only now delving in the ruins of Pompeii and 
Herculaneum, which perished twenty centuries ago. The disaster 
taat overwhelmed them was scarce more complete than Italy's 
latest devastation. The toll of human life exacted was infinitely 
smaller, yet they could not survive. 

These modern victims of the earthquake's wrath outlived 
damage in the past at the hands of the all-powerful forces that are 
beyond and above man's guidance. Now they have suffered 
destruction so utter and so complete that any attempt to recon- 
struct them must be reconstruction indeed and repopulation as 

The vines will still grow on Etna's sun-kissed slopes ; wine 
and olives still will pour from the Calabrian steeps. That is true. 
And men will be found who will dare the dangers of this oft- 
scourged land in the future as their forefathers have done in the 
countless centuries of a horror-stained past. 

But there are too few left to make more than half a dozen 


villages. The remnants of the vast army of workers who 
thronged this human bee hive will have no companion in the 
shattered streets save the wraiths of those who paid the penalty 
of their temerity and their patriotism with their lives. 

The world speaks of this stupendous disaster as Italy's. Yet 
it is America's in scarcely less a measure. Hardly a family in 
all the stricken region but had at least one breadwinner on our 
own side of the Atlantic. 

Scarcely a home in all America which housed a family of 
Italian parentage but mourns for loved ones lost. 

There is a lesson in all things. But that lesson can convey 
no rebuke to the hardy peasants who loved the land that their 
forefathers loved. They took the well-known risk and paid the 
penalty with their lives. So be it. 

But if we of to-day, in a land blessed by nature and blossom- 
ing like the rose, fail to read aright the ages-old story ; if we do 
not realize, as never before, that there is over and above us a 
power greater than our own, a power who holds the lightnings in 
His grasp and the hurricane in the hollow of His hand, the 
martyrs who perished on the Sicilian and Calabrian shores have 
died in vain. 


B. C. 464 Laconia shaken and Sparta 
ruined ; more than 20,000 persons killed. 

A. D. 19 Syria devastated; 120,000 persons 

157 Pontius and Macedonia, Asia; a great 
number of cities laid in ruins and uncounted 
lives lost. 

742 Syria, Palestine and Western Asia; 
many towns destroyed and loss of life re- 
corded as "incalculable." 

936 Constantinople destroyed and Greece 
shaken, with enormous loss of life. 

1137 Cantania, Sicily, destroyed; 1500 

1169 Cantania shaken; its cathedral 
destroyed ; thousands killed. 

1268 Cilicia, Asia Minor; 60,000 killed. 

1456 Naples and vicinity; 40,000 killed. 

1531 February 26, Lisbon; 30,000 killed. 

1626 July 30, Naples ; 70,000 killed. 

1667 Schamaki; 80,000 killed. 

1692 June 7, Port Royal, Jamaica, 3000 
killed and the city laid in ruins. 

1693 September, Sicily, 100,000 killed. 

1703 February 2, Tokio, Japan; 200,000 

1706 November 3, Abruzzi, Italy, 5000 

1716-Algeria, 20,000 killed. 

1726 September 1, Palermo, Italy; 6000 

1731 November 30, Pekin, China; 100,000 

1746 October 28, Lima, and Callao; Lima 
reduced to ruins with only 21 of 3000 houses 
left standing; comparatively small loss of 
life, 1141 of a population of 50,000 having 
been killed. 

1751 May 24, Concepcion, Chile, destroyed; 
10,000 killed. 

1754 Cairo, Egypt; 40,000 killed. 

1755- November 1, "The Great Lisbon 
Earthquake," cost 20,000 lives and engulfed 
city; subject of a notable description by 
Grace Aguilar, in her novel, "The Escape." 

1759-October 30, Syria; 20,000 killed. 

1773 June 7, Santiago, Guatemala, en- 

1783 February 5, Messina; 60,000 killed. 

1797 Santa Fe and throughout Central 
America; 40,000 killed. 

1812 March 26, Caracas, Venezuela; 12,000 

1819 June 16, Cutch, India; 20,000 killed; 
contour of vast territory changed. 

1822 August 10, Aleppo ; 20,000 killed. 

1822 November 19, West Coast of Chile; 
10,000 killed. 

1835 February 20, Concepcion, Chile; 
partly destroyed ; 5000 killed. 

1851 August 14, Milfl, Italy; 14,000 killed. 

1852 September 16, Manila. Philippine 
Islands; partly destroyed with great loss of 

1855 Tokio partly destroyed ; 10,000 killed. 

1857 December 16, Calabria, Italy; 10,000 

1859 March 22, Quito Ecuador; 5000 

1860 March 20, Mendoza, S. A., 7000 killed. 

1863 July 2, Manila, Philippines; 1000 

1863 August 15, Peru and Ecuador ; series 
known as the " Great South American Earth- 
quakes," which followed hurricanes, earth 
tremors, and volcanic eruptions, ending in 
tremendous shocks of August 13 to 16 and 
occasioning vast tidal waves, causing 25,000 
deaths and enormous damage to property. 

1875 May 15, Columbia, South America; 
14,000 killed. 

1881 April 3, Scio, Italy; 4,000 killed. 

1883 August 26, Krakatoa, volcanic island 
in Sundra Straits ; 50,000 killed. 

1883 October 16, Anatolia Asia, and many 
surrounding towns destroyed. 

1885-July 8, Cashmere ; 20,000 killed. 

1886 August 31, Charleston, S. C., and the 
South Atlantic Coast; 98 killed; property 
loss, 13,000,000. 

1887 February 24, Switzerland, France and 
Northern Italy ; 2000 killed. 

1888-March, Yun Nan, China; 4000 killed. 

1888 Japan, Province of Tukushima, 165 
miles north from Tokio ; 600 killed. 

1891 October 28, severe shocks in Mino and 
Owaro Provinces, Japan ; 7000 killed ; 200,000 
houses destroyed. 

1897 June 12, Assam, India; 1,750,000 
square miles shaken; believed the greatest 
that ever happened. 

1902 May 8, Martinique, eruption of Mount 
Pelee follows quake ; Saint Pierre destroyed ; 
40,000 killed. 

1905 Southern Italy; 600 killed. 

1906 April 18, San Francisco ; city damaged 
by quake and in large part destroyed by 

1906 August 16, Valparaiso, Chile^ 1000 
killed ; 100,000 rendered homeless. 

1907 January 14, Kingston ; 1200 killed. 

1908 Earthquake and tidal wave in Italy. 


ARTHQUAKE disasters have followed each other with appal- 
ling frequency throughout the centuries, and have, as in the 
dreadful Italian catastrophe, proved a scourge of plague 
proportions ; yet scientists are at loggerheads over the cause of 
this phenomenon, and it is only within the last thirty years that 
the study of earthquakes has been taken up for serious investi- 

Several distinct causes are suggested for the deadly phe- 
nomena. Great concussions, even on the surface, as in the great 
landslide at Rossberg, Switzerland, are capable of producing 
powerful shocks in all directions ; and where these slides are 
beneath the surface they are able to bring about a disaster like 
that of San Francisco. Again, it is believed, that sudden move- 
ments of the molten interior of the earth, against the crust may 
be responsible for the violent tremors. 


The latest theory, which is regarded as a plausible one, is the 
result of years of investigation by the veteran English seismo- 
logist, Professor Milne. He believes the records now at our com- 
mand, showing the districts most frequented by earthquakes and 
the time at which they occur, correspond to the changes in the 
direction of the earth's pole, which is constantly shifting its 

The reasons for the shift of the pole is put down to the 
movement of rock material within the liquid portions of the earth 
just below the crust. These same migrations of huge quantities 
of solid matter shift the axis of the earth ; but they do more they 
appear in certain places and exert enormous pressure upon those 
places, and create earthquakes, often with the attendant discharge 



of molten matter through volcanoes adjacent to the place of the 

The causes for the earth-tremors the presence of which can 
be noted thousands cf miles from the centre of disturbance are, 
therefore, still a matter of conjecture. But no such conflict of 
opinion exists as to the localities most afflicted. In fact, scientists 
have agreed that there are two great zones of earthquakes. The 
most important of these zones includes some 54 per cent, of all 
the shocks, and is outlined by the Alps and the Mediterranean 
(where the Italian disaster occurred), the Caucasus and the 

The other belt surrounds the Pacific Ocean, following the 
line of the big mountain ranges in the western part of North and 
South America, and festooning the islands on the borders of 
Eastern Asia and Malaysia. This latter belt includes 41 per cent, 
of all the shocks studied, so that 95 per cent, of all recorded 
shocks belong to one or the other of the two great belts. 


So ably have seismologists handled the subject of earthquakes 
that they have been able to deduce most interesting facts regarding 
their occurrence. For instance, Dr. Omori, the distinguished 
professor of seismology in the University of Tokyo (Japan, because 
it is a victim of shocks, is proving an excellent student of them), 
has brought out the fact that the earthquakes follow each other in 
these two belts in a systematic way. They do not appear as an 
extension of each other in the same belt ; but invariably wheii 
there has been a violent tremor in one province, the next disturb- 
ance is likely to occur in a distant section in the same belt rather 
than a neighboring one. 

It was because of this that Professor Ornori, on his visit to 
California, after the earthquake of April 18, 1906, was able to 
express the view that the next great shock upon the Pacific coast 
of North and South America would occur in the seismic belt south 
of the equator. And, sure enough, before he reached Japan, came 
the shocks which were so disastrous to Valparaiso, in Chile, 


Then came the earthquake in Mexico in 1907, this time equidis- 
tant from both San Francisco and Chile, and, oddly enough, less 
violent than the Valparaiso one, as that was less violent than the 
California catastrophe. Reasoning from this, it would not be im- 
probable that the next shock, following upon the Italian one, 
would be in the same belt, but in the Himalaya district, while a 
third successive shock should still later be felt in the Caucasus, 
midway between the two. 

Scientists long ago recognized that earthquake zones are also 
zones of active volcanoes. This is particularly true of the Italian 
(Mediterranean- Alps) section of the first belt spoken of above, and 
of the Pacific Ocean belt. Italy shows the sudden activity of the 
volcanic system in the neighborhood ; and invariably, great tremors 
in Japan are followed by volcanic explosions of fearful intensity. 

For this reason it has been popularly supposed that earth- 
quakes have their origin in volcanic disturbances. Of course, it 
cannot be denied that the coincidence is a striking one, yet the 
relation of earthquakes to volcanic action is not that which had 
been generally supposed. It is true that both have their origin in 
the same neighborhood ; and this neighborhood is usually one 
where mountains have been built up by the cooling of the earth, 
and the consequent wrinkling of its surface. But to-day it is only 
where mountains are still growing, where they are being fashioned 
and re-fashioned, that earthquakes and active volcanoes are to be 
found together. In those places vast areas are tossed about by 
internal action and the squeezing which attends this process 
usually forces out molten rock matter through the volcanoes. 

When the mountains have ceased to grow lava is no longer 
exuded through volcanoes ; but earthquakes are possible where the 
earth is " dead," as was the case in California. De Montessus, 
the great geologist, says : " While we may cite regions frequently 
shaken by earthquakes which, at the same time, have their active 
volcanoes, the fact should be recognized that there is independence 
of the seismicity and volcanicity ; that while there is coincidence 
between the unstable regions and eruptions, one phenomena does 
in a marked degree cause the other." 


It is true that the volcanic and seismic histories of the same 
province show that unusual earthquake intensity occurs at the 
same time as excessive volcanic activity. During the great Cala- 
brian earthquake of September 8, 1905, the greatest for a century 
for that neighborhood prior to the present one, the neighboring 
volcano, Vesuvius, showed not the slightest sympathy. Eight 
months later, however, there occurred in it the greatest eruption 
in almost three centuries. Going back to the fearful earthquake 
in Calabria, in 1783, we find that both Etna and Vulcano only 
became active after some time. It would seem, then, that the 
underground changes producing earthquakes are responsible for 
the throwing out of masses of matter through the fissures called 

Italy, although a heavy sufferer through earthquake and vol- 
canic disturbances, has not been alone in frequently paying toll 
in lives to earth tremors. The lower valley of the Tagus, upon 
whose bank the city of Lisbon is built, has a long record of dis- 
astrous earthquakes, the most noteworthy of which were those of 
1309, 1531 and 1755. Until the disaster at Messina the Lisbon horror 
of 1755 took first rank, in many respects, among all recorded earth- 
quakes. The first shocks of this earthquake came without other 
warning than a deep sound resembling thunder, which appeared to 
proceed from beneath the ground, and it was immediately followed 
by a quaking which threw down almost the entire city. In six 
minutes sixty thousand people perished. The day was almost 
immediately turned into night, owing to the thickness of the dust 
from the shaken city and the ruins quickly took fire, so that to the 
destruction from the shocks were added the horrors of a conflagra- 
tion and pillage by bands of robbers. The new Lisbon quay, 
which had been built entirely of marble, suddenly sank into the 
sea with an immense crowd of people, who had gathered in sup- 
posed safety upon it, and the accounts state that not one of the 
bodies ever floated to the surface. 

Following hard upon the first shocks, the sea retired from the 
land, carrying boats and other craft with it, only to return in a 
great wave 60 feet in height, which completed the destruction in 


and about the city. This great sea wave, which was, until that 
which recently wrought such havoc in Italy, the mightiest which 
has ever been described in connection with an earthquake, not 
only swept the coast of the Iberian Peninsula, but extended with 
destructive violence to the coasts of many distant countries. At 
Kinsale, in Ireland, it was strong enough to whirl vessels about 
and to pour into the market place. 

The present scene of disaster, Calabria and Northeastern 
Sicily, has a long record of shocks ; and for no other country save 
Japan have the records of local earthquakes been so long or so 
well preserved. The areas shaken have not been extraordinary 
for extent, but as regards both the changes in the country produced 
and in the loss of life which occurred they rank among the greatest 
in history. The shocks of 1783, which cost 30,000 lives, came 
without warning, and in the space of two minutes threw down 
numberless cities and villages. Here again there was a tidal wave, 
and 1600 people who sought safety on crafts were destroyed by it. 
The coast outline has been changed by every quake ; in fact, there 
is no such thing as a permanent coast outline near Calabria. 

The Empire of Japan is, as regards its land area, perhaps as 
unstable as any upon the globe, and the records of its earthquakes 
are probably as complete as any that are in existence. The total 
number of recorded destructive earthquakes in a period of nearly 
1500 years is 223. Since the beginning of the seventeenth century 
the records prove that a destructive earthquake has occurred some- 
where in the Empire once every two and a half years. The earth- 
quake of October 28, 1891, shook an area of 243,000 square miles, 
or more than three-fifths of the entire area of Japan. Without the 
least notice the stroke fell, and in thirty seconds there followed a 
destruction of 7000 lives and 20,000 buildings, while 17,000 people 
were more or less seriously injured. 

In 1897 occurred the earthquake of widest geographical extent 
yet recorded. It was at Assam, India, and in two minutes and a 
half destroyed everything within an area of 150,000 square miles, 
and shook with more or less violence some two million square 


The United States has a list of shocks, which have in several 
instances been very disastrous. The earthquake of 1811 along 
the Lower Mississippi River was felt throughout the United States, 
and between December of 1811 and March of 1812 not less than 
1874 shocks were recorded in the Mississippi Valley. The neigh- 
borhood of New Madrid, Mo., never entirely ceased shaking, and 
rumblings are heard to-day. 

In 1886 came the quake along the Atlantic seaboard. Before 
the eventful August 31, 1886, few, if any, of the inhabitants of the 
quiet city of Charleston, S. C., had the slightest idea that they 
stood in danger from earthquakes. Yet the Atlantic seaboard is a 
place of relatively high seismicity. In that earthquake of 1886 
the casualities were few, although 14,000 chimneys were destroyed. 

The California earthquake of April 18, 1906, is likely to be 
memorable because of the value of the property destroyed and the 
interest it aroused in Americans as to the danger from earthquakes 
in our own country. It is a fact, for instance, that New England 
is a province of rather high seismicity, although no earthquakes 
of destructive violence have been recorded. The same statement 
applies with almost equal force for the entire Atlantic coast from 
Nova Scotia to Georgia. Other districts of the nation which are 
especially likely to be disturbed are the Central Mississippi Valley, 
the valley of the St. Lawrence and large areas not as yet well de- 
termined in the Great Basin and Pacific coast regions of the 
Western States. 

With the advent of recent self-registering instruments all 
others have passed out of use. The seismograph is in principle a 
finely suspended pendulum, usually of considerable weight, whose 
motioD operates a series of levers, which in turn make marks on a 
piece of paper mounted on a revolving drum. All the complex 
seismograph instruments are varieties of this type. The pendu- 
lum only records earth motions, and is so balanced that its swings 
are not kept up except by a continuation of the earth tremors, 
whereas an ordinary pendulum would keep on oscillating if started. 

Seismographs are housed in cellars, and if used to record 
delicate, distant shocks are brought in contact with the rock under- 


lying the soil of the cellar. In the construction of such a cellar 
care is taken to keep the locality distant from railroad tracks or 
streets of heavy traffic. Seismographs which are used to study 
local shocks of great intensity are placed on loose soil, since it 
serves better to lengthen out the record of a sudden shock. 

The countries which have been the greatest sufferers through 
earthquake shock have produced the ablest seismologists Japan 
and Italy, The Italian station is at Rocca di Papa, near Rome, 
and almost all its instruments have been designed by its distin- 
guished director, Professor Agemennone. The real Italian head 
is Professor Palazzo, of the Central Office of Meteorology and 
Geodynamics, who co-ordinates the work of fifteen stations of the 
first rank and controls 800 seismic correspondents. 

Japan, with its relatively small territory, has at present, in 
addition to its Central Meteorological Observatory, and the Labor- 
atory of Seismological Institute of the Imperial University (both at 
Tokyo), 71 local stations provided with seismographs and 1437 
other stations scattered throughout Japan. 

America is far to the front in this respect. Great Britain 
does important work in its many possessions scattered over the 
world. Germany has twelve earthquake stations, in addition to 
the chief station at Strasburg, where may be found the highest 
development of instrumental refinement in earthquake study. 


Earthquakes are accounted for in two different ways. One theory is 
that the earth is going through a process like that of an apple in drying, 
which produces wrinkles. The other is the steam boiler theory that is, 
that water finding access to the hot interior of the earth causes explosions 
from time to time. 

Of these the latter theory is the more likely to account for the great 
catastrophe in Sicily and Southern Italy. The mere cooling off of the 
outside crust of the earth would not account for the violence of the 
Italian earthquakes, though it would account for such mild changes of 
surface as caused the San Francisco disaster. 

In San Francisco one stratum of rocks slid a few feet, thereby causing 
a small tidal wave and upsetting buildings, whose foundations were 
thrown out of place by the shifting of stratum. 

The Sicilian earthquake is of the boiler type. Such earthquakes 
occur near large bodies of water, and where there are crevices or deep 
craters in the earth's surface under the water. 

The interior of the earth is like a superheated boiler. It is filled 
with a mass of molten lava heated under great pressure to a temperature 
thousands of degrees higher than any known heat on the surface of the 

When by the contracting of the earth's surface a crevice opens under 
an ocean or sea the water flows down at once to the hot lava hundreds of 
feet below. There it is converted into superheated steam of enormous 
rending power. Unless this pressure is relieved by a volcano, there is an 
earthquake, when the ground explodes like a superheated boiler. 

Mt. Etna, Mt. Vesuvius and Mt. Stromboli are the three volcanic 
safety valves on the Mediterranean when the hot lava below seeks outlet 
for its superheated steam. If these volcanoes blow off the earthquake 
disturbance is slight. 

For thousands of years Vesuvius, Etna and Stromboli have erupted 
from time to time, relieving the boiler pressure within. This time those 
safety valves of nature did not work. Like a boiler when its safety valve 
does not work, the resulting explosion was disastrous. 

In the Pacific Ocean such earthquakes are frequent. The deeper and 
larger the body of water the more likely it is to leak through in the 
molten interior. 

Geologists have so accurately plotted the earth's surface that the 
earthquake and volcanic areas are well defined. This will no more pre- 
vent the resettling of Eastern Sicily and the toe of Italy than did the 
eruption of Pompeii or the destruction of San Francisco prevent the 
building of a new city on the ruins. 




































COAST 177 






WHERE 227 

xviii CONTENTS. 
















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7 I A HE hour was early dawn. Messina, the centre of the greatest dis- 
aster of historic times, lay sleeping on that fatal 28th day of De- 
cember, 1908. 

That faint chill which comes to the semi-tropic lands in the waning 
hours of a mid-winter's night was in the lazy air. 

The Mediterranean lay like a sea of glass beyond the breakwater. 
The faint breath of breeze that crept over its waters from the northwest 
was scarcely sufficient to ruffle its placid surface. 

Etna's lava-scored but vine-clad slopes darkened the southern hori- 
zon, while from its snow-capped peak, reared 10,000 feet into the heav- 
ens, a thin wisp of smoke, gilded by the eternal fires in the death-deal- 
ing crater below, floated idly off to the southeast. 

The hour was dawn, but not a ray of light came from the heavens 
to banish the foreboding pall that hung like a sable shroud over the 
doomed city. 

The wide streets, with their myriad of gleaming lights, were de- 
serted save as here and there a belated straggler, muffled to keep out 
the unwonted chill, hurried to the early mass in some one of the city's 
majestic churches. 

In the capacious harbor scores of vessels swung idly at anchor. 

The silence was unbroken save for the muffled tread of the sentries 
on the ramparts of the citadel and the lesser fortresses that dotted the 
water front. 

The city slept. 

In massive palaces and humble hovels alike men, women and chil- 
dren lay wrapped in a slumber from which they were so soon to start in 
terror only to be plunged anew into that sleep that knows no waking. 

Tired and worn in body and mind alike by the holiday revels they 
J ITA, 33 


dreamed on. No foreboding of their impending doom cast its dread 
shadow over their couches. 

All nature seemed at rest and at peace. 

Suddenly out of the skies came a sinister hiss that caused the very 
priests at the altar to halt in their sacred offices. Heads bowed in prayer 
were raised as the hiss deepened into an unearthly shriek. The kneeling 
worshippers leaped to their feet for one brief instant and then slowly 
and reverently, but with an added touch of terror, again sank to their 
knees and began to feverishly finger their beads. 

Crash! Bang! 

The heavens thundered as from the bursting of ten thousand bombs. 

The hiss deepened till it seemed that a myriad of red hot serpents 
were writhing in the waters. 

Then came the whirl, the rush and roar of a torrential rain so terrify- 
ing that not a face but blanched with apprehension. Only those who 
have faced an electrical storm in the tropics can imagine one hundredth 
part of the horror of that supernatural demonstration. 


The earth began to pulsate. Slowly and in rhythmic measure at first 
as though trying its strength and then with a wild and frenzied burst like 
the dance of a million imps. It rocked not only Messina, but half of 
Sicily and all of Calabria like a raft in a storm. 

It lasted but an instant, but in that brief span scores of thousands 
perished 'neath the ruins of the stricken city. 

The first crash from the heavens reached every ear in Messina. 

The houses had begun to vomit terror-stricken men, women and 
children before even the fantastic dance of earth began. 

Full well did those who dwelt in the shadow of majestic but death- 
dealing Etna know what the artillery of the heavens portended. 

Science may present its theories. Those who dwell in the shadow 
of death have no use for them. 

Ages of calamity had taught those men of Messina that earth and 
heavens act in harmony and that the rattle of the thunder and the roar 


of the tempest was but a prelude to a drama of death in which the very 
earth beneath their feet was to sway like the waves of the sea. 

Thousands gained the open streets before the final crash came. 
Walls fell to the right of them; roofs crashed to the left of them; cornices 
and chimneys toppled before them, while death stalked in their wake to 
destroy any who hesitated or paused. Other countless thousands were 
too late or were held prisoners of jammed doors and fallen stairways. 

The earth shook itself in one great convulsive movement as though 
the giant whom tradition says Jupiter ages ago imprisoned beneath the 
massive rocks of Etna was struggling, after centuries of confinement, 
to break his bonds. 


Walls shivered, gaped and fell, carrying down to death all who still 
clung, with convulsive fear, to their racked and ruined homes. 

Beams groaned and creaked, as if in mortal agony, and then at the 
final and supreme moment, slipped from their sockets in the walls. 
Roofs crashed to earth, carrying down with them the massive arched 
floors beneath. 

Even all of those who had sought safety in the streets did not escape. 
In many of the narrower thoroughfares the debris piled many feet deep 
from curb to curb, burying under countless tons of stone and mortar 
not only those who in their terror had taken shelter in their shadows, 
but the fleeing hordes who, maddened by the terror of that awful mo- 
ment, had sought safety in flight. 

Still other walls, relieved of the burden of roofs and floors, hung 
tottering, seamed and scarred by the terrible forces of the cataclysm. 


The very heavens seemed appalled and the low-hanging clouds re- 
flected back the sound. 

"Dies Irae," the day of wrath, screamed a thousand throats. 

The great gas tanks, at the northern end of the town had blown 
up, and before the force of that terrific explosion the tottering and hesi- 
tating masonry crashed prostrate to the dust, burying hundreds of al- 


ready cut, bruised and battered human beings in the only tomb most of 
them will ever know. 

In this crash the Capucine Convent fell, while hundreds perished. 

Within the churches was to be found the nearest approach to seren- 
ity in all that stricken city. The black-frocked priests hesitated but a 
moment, and then, grasping the sacred hosts in their hands, slowly and 
with even more than usual reverence resumed their chants till the loos- 
ened beams and seamed and gaping walls let tons of death and destruction, 
down upon the flaming altars, burying priests and people alike in the 
depths of a funeral pyre. 

The gas lamps flared for the brief instant of the explosion like the 
last dying flicker of a candle. Then they went out, leaving the streets 
in utter darkness. 

In the horrible wrenching and grinding and twisting of the earth 
the electric wires broke, and a million hissing serpents, spitting death, 
coiled about the panic-stricken survivors. 

Again the ground trembled and the earth yawned in hideous fissures 
that seamed the streets like giant mouths, hungry to devour the panic- 
stricken and the helpless. 


The water mains parted and the reservoirs gushed forth death and 

Meanwhile the cold rain from the north, driven by a wind that had 
risen to the heights of a hurricane, mercilessly beat upon the helpless 
and hopeless survivors. 

Yet, blindly groping in the almost Stygian blackness to which the 
dust clouds from the fallen buildings gave added depth, the scarred and 
stricken survivors plunged on to the open spaces where they felt that 
safety lay. 

In the mad panic few stopped to consider direction save as it carried 
them to the broad esplanade that lined the harbor, and away from the 
Etna of which centuries of peril had ingrained fear into their very be- 

Climbing over seemingly impassable barriers of broken stone and 


twisted and tangled beams, daring death in the shadow of a hundred tot- 
tering arches, slinking along in the shadows of seamed and scarred ma- 
sonry, thousands finally made their way through those acres of desola- 
tion and death to the water front. 

In the capacious square that lay open between the great citadel, the 
railway station and the massive warehouses and palaces at the southern 
end of the harbor tens of thousands struggled for places as far from men- 
acing walls of masonry as possible. 

In the smaller square fronting the great cathedral and in the shadow 
of its massive walls other thousands clustered for safety. 

Proudly and defiantly the great cathedral had stood the ravages of 
two great fires and countless earthquakes for nearly a thousand years, 
ever since the Norman conqueror, away back in the eleventh century, 
had shown to classic Sicily the solemn beauty of the Norman-Gothic arch- 


So far through all the centuries, it had not failed those who had fled 
to it for safety. At its high altar alone of all the churches in Messina, 
the solemn chanting of the mass was still giving hope in the midst of 
devastation, destruction and death. 

Vain hope ! 

The grim reaper had not yet taken his full meed of human sacrifices. 
The grand old structure, the noblest and most noteworthy in Messina, 
which had sheltered their forebears through many a siege of destruction 
was now, for the first time, to prove unworthy of the trust reposed in it. 

Already its scarred walls, weakened by the stress of the centuries, 
were seamed and cracked by the tumultuous writhings of the earth. 

Again its foundations trembled and its massive walls, as though soul- 
weary after its age-long fight, crumbled to the dust. 

The university, the almshouse, the municipal hospital and the cus- 
tom house already had fallen. 

The great commercial structures that lined the docks to the south 
and the palaces that fronted the open sea to the north already were shape- 
less heaps of stone and mortar, with here and there a wall rising like a 
grim sentinel guarding a city of the dead. 


The Trinacria and the Victoria hotels, with their hosts of tourists 
of all nations, crashed into mounds of ruins over what were in grim truth 
the graves of hundreds. 

The Theatre Victor Emanuele and the Theatre della Munizione, two 
structures of the highest class, were scarred and battered, their roofs 
fallen in and heaps of mortar defiling the plush and brocade where, but 
a few hours before, grace and youth and beauty had smiled away their 
last happy hours. 


The massive antique columns of the Church of the Annunziata dei 
Catalani, another grand old Norman structure, tottered and fell, crushed 
and broken, while the entire facade of the noble structure, wavering for 
n brief instant, swelled the mass of shapeless fragments. 

The American Consulate, too, fell at the first great shock, burying 
the Consul, Arthur S. Cheney, and his wife. Another American who 
was killed was Joseph H. Peirce, former U. S. Vice-Consul, who with his 
family were crushed to death. 

The entire family was asleep when the first shock came, according 
to the rictal of Miss Evelyn Peirce, a cousin of Mr. Peirce, who was safe 
at Naples. Mr. Peirce was the first one to realize the terrible shaking 
as an earthquake. He urged his wife to take the younger children and 
make her escape. He then rushed into the room where the elder chil- 
dren were sleeping to arouse them, but the tidal wave rushed in and 
completed the work of destruction. The tottering walls of the Peirce 
house collapsed and the entire family was buried beneath the ruins. 

Mr. Peirce was the Messina correspondent of the Associated Press. 

Among the buildings wrecked was the barracks of the carabinier&, 
in which 50 perished in the ruins. 

A palace of 26 rooms collapsed and of the inmates only four escaped. 

The seaward fronts of the University and Palazzo Municipale re- 
main standing, but the interiors are gone. The buildings along the 
waterside collapsed like houses of cards. 

The Santelia barracks were destroyed with most of the troops i 
them, only thirty soldiers escaping out of 230. 


The immense military hospital was wrecked, with its sick and con- 
valescents in it. 

The prison collapsed and buried 400 prisoners, while 30 or more 
made their escape. Many officers of the garrison later were removed 
from the ruins still living, but almost all of the guards, in the less sub- 
stantial portions of the building perished. 


The barracks were demolished. The commander of the troops was 
killed outright, and there are many victims among the enlisted men. 

Yet from all this wild carnival of death thousands escaped to the 
Avenue Palazzati, that skirts the inner shore of the harbor, in a frantic 
endeavor to escape the hail of bricks and mortar that were still raining 
death, at every tremor, upon the refugees. 

Vain delusion. The story of slaughter was not yet half told. 

Another, and, it might almost be said, even greater calamity, was 

There, in the open places, in the rain, bleeding from their wounds, 
nursing their hurts, the refugees huddled, praying for the coming of the 

Numbed with the horror of the situation, some mumbled prayers, 
while others, crazed by the shock and the loss of loved ones, danced and 

The scene was unparalleled in all human experience. 

Agony was yet to be piled upon their misery. Disaster was yet to 
come. Death's hideous carnival had but just begun. 

Agony was yet to be piled upon their misery. Disaster was yet to 
be piled upon their misfortune. The dreadful forces of nature, having 
tasted blood, had but had their appetities whetted, and now were about 
to demand fresh victims. 

The few soldiers who still clung to the shattered ramparts of the 
fortresses along the breakwater were the first to give the warning. 

But it came too late, either for themselves or the hosts who lined 
the esplanade along the water front. 


In the growing brightness of the dawn they saw what yet was hid- 
den from those lower down along the water's edge. 

Rearing its head fifty feet in the air a giant wave was racing from the 
Calabrian shore. They did not know, could not know, that already this 
same wave, first sweeping to the eastward, had engulfed Reggio di Cala- 
bria, a city of 50,000 people, eight miles to the southeast on the Italian 
mainland, across the Straits of Messina and that rebounding from the 
Calabrian cliffs it was returning to wreak a further vengeance on 
stricken Messina. 

Those to the north, beyond the end of the breakwater, saw it almost 
as soon as the survivors in the forts. 

In an instant there was a wild rush for safety, back across those 
hideous piles of ruins, while the groans of the injured, hopelessly pin- 
ioned beneath beam and brick, added to the horror. 

None then thought of succoring the injured. Self-preservation is 
nature's first law and self-preservation was possible only by flight. 

It seemed but a moment before the hissing wave, speeding along 
with the fleetness of a race-horse was upon them. 


Men, women and children again had a battle with the most diaboli- 
cal forces of nature for their very lives. 

The wave, 50 feet high, rolled back three blocks from the shore line 
and in its waters thousands met that death they had so miraculously es- 
caped in the vortex of falling walls and crashing masonry. 

Hundreds of half-dressed men, women and children who had fled 
from their houses to the streets were caught in the onrush of waters and 
drowned or injured. 

In a moment it had receded, carrying with it many of its unhappy 
victims, while the bodies of hundreds of others strewed the strand. 

Flames then began making their way slowly over the devastated 
area in an inexorable advance. Imprisoned and pinioned human beings, 
unable to extricate themselves, burned alive, hundreds were dying of 
their injuries, while many were starving. 

The streets were filled with confused masses of brick and mortar 


beams, furniture, chimneys and roofs. In many cases the streets ap- 
peared as enormous crevasses, twisted into fantastic shapes. 

The celebrated avenue, which runs along the inner sea front 
from the university to the postoffice, was impassable. All the public 
monuments that were there had disappeared. 

All the water pipes, sewers and gas pipes of the city had been de- 
stroyed, and water and filth were flooding the torn streets. Gas explo- 
sions occurred frequently, and resulted in scores of small fires. 


For several hours after the first destructive shock Messina was ab- 
solutely without organized relief. The municipal officials, the soldiers, 
the police, doctors and nurses by the hundreds were either buried or 

The first work of rescue was performed by volunteers from ships 
in the harbor and groups of survivors who, at great labor and personal 
danger, extricated many persons pinioned beneath the wreckage. 

Messina's crying need was for doctors, clothing and food and firemen 
to combat the flames. 

Doctors, nurses and firement were hurried into the wrecked city, 
but the lack of food and water made the work of rescue difficult. The 
Russian and British warships at Messina sent crews ashore, and the ves- 
sels were transformed into hospitals. 

All the hospitals in Catania were crowded, and even the schools 
were converted into infirmaries. The less seriously injured of Messina 
were dispatched by the dozens to Palermo. 

Minister of Public Works Bertolini arrived, and organized several 
corps of volunteers for rescue work. 

Refugees telling of their escape, relate that after escaping from their 
ruined houses they waited in terror for the coming of light. Then they 
made their way over the obstructions in the streets to the open places. 
They had to leave behind them under the ruins countless victims who 
called for help in heartrending tones. 

It is asserted that probably half the fatalities occurred because it was 


impossible for the survivors to render prompt assistance. Not the 
least of the suffering was caused by the downpour of cold rain. 

The waters of the Straits of Messina were covered with the floating 
bodies of men and animals and all kinds of wreckage. More than 300 
vessels were adrift off Messina alone, while hundreds of others lay on 
the bottom of the troubled sea. 

In Messina crowds of nude persons walked the streets with images 
of saints. They all appeared demented. From the stricken city five huge 
columns of smoke could be seen rolling heavenward. 

All the towns and villages along the Straits were rapidly becoming 
depopulated, as there were widespread fears of further convulsions. 


Scenes of the weirdest nature were being enacted at Messina and 
other ruined cities. Clouds of crows and buzzards descended on the 
stricken district, having crossed the sea in response to some mysterious 
intuition of the disaster. 

The roads between Palermo and Messina were filled with long, sad 
processions of wounded refugees, painfully making their way to the 
westward. They all believed they were the only survivors. 

The wife of the French consul at Messina, the sole survivor of her 
family, finally reached Milazzo. She was badly injured. Her husband, 
son and daughter were killed. 

Ludovico Fuici, a member of the Chamber of Deputies, who was 
at Messina, at the time of the earthquake, gave an account of the death 
of his brother, Nicolo, who was also a deputy, and the efforts to save 
him, which was absolutely harrowing. 

From 6 o'clock Monday morning until midnight he could hear the 
desperate lamentations of his brother and his anguished appeals for help, 
without being able to reach him, notwithstanding his frantic efforts. At 
midnight the groans gradually died away, and nothing afterward was 

Many of the wounded died before reaching Palermo, and many have 
died since they arrived. 


Most of the refugees were practically naked; some in tattered gar- 
ments picked up in the streets. 

The stories related by the survivors in the hospitals and at the food 
supply stations, where rations were issued twice a day, all reflect the hor- 
ror of the fateful 28th of December. There were many miraculous es- 
capes, but the cases of bereavement are without number. 

A cobbler named Francesco Missiano relates that immediately after 
the first shock he and his wife and children rushed out into the street. 
Fires were breaking out all around them. Hearing groans from a pile 
of debris nearby the cobbler made a hurried examination. He found two 
girls dying. The head of one was split open, while the chest of the other 
had been crushed in. The cobbler picked up a baby, but it expired in 
his arms. 

It took his party hours to traverse the heaps of ruins between his 
house and the water front. After placing his family in safety he returned 
to seek his mother and sisters, but he was obliged to give up the effort. 
It was impossible to make his way back to his home. 

During the thirty-six hours the cobbler passed among the ruins he 
did not see more than 5,000 or 6,000 survivors. This man owes his safety 
to the fact that he lived in a one-story house. He says that no help ar- 
rived for thirty hours after the catastrophe. 

An old man who had lost all his family was seen going about the 
ruins vainly asking for food. He had loaded himself down with his most 
valuable possessions. While on one of the docks he suddenly called out : 

"As nobody helps me, I will die," and with these words he threw 
himself into the sea. A sailor dragged him out. 



T UST as the British steamship Ebro was preparing to leave Messina 
with refugees an outburst of frightful cries was heard from the 
shore. The refugees on board saw a crowd of maddened persons of 
every age break into the custom house. Some were naked, others half 
clothed, and they all were mudspattered and half demented. Many 
were injured and bleeding. They sacked everything that came to their 
hands, seeking food, drink and clothing. 

Bands of famished individuals were groping among the debris in the 
hope of discovering food. The first of the searchers who were success- 
ful were attacked by others with revolvers and knives, and were obliged 
to defend their finds literally with their lives. 

The struggle was fierce. The famished men threw themselves upon 
each other like wolves, and several fell disembowled in defending a hand- 
ful of dry beans or a few ounces of flour. One of the unfortunates was 
pinned to a plank with a knife, while clinging to his hand was a little 
child, for whom he had sought food. 

Revolver shots rang out over the horrible din and confusion. Final- 
ly tongues of flame shot up in the darkness, showing that fire was com- 
pleting the work of destruction. 

This was only one of the many scenes of horror witnessed from the 
Ebro. Messina was burning, and masses of flames in the darkness 
showed where fire was completing the destructive beginnings of the 
earthquake. A few skeleton houses here and there were all that re- 
mained of the once beautiful and prosperous town. 

Ghoul-like figures flittered in the semi-darkness, risking their lives 
among tottering ruins, not to assist the agonized sufferers, but in fiend- 
ish strivings to profit by the appalling disaster. They were robbing the 
dead and dying. 



All of the survivors speak of the misery suffered by cold and hunger 
after their escape, and of the rarity of other survivors seen in the streets 
and open places, so that often they believed themselves to be the only 
persons saved; and of the dense, choking cloud of dust which hung over 
the city for a long time, obscuring their vision and adding to the horrors 
of their bewilderment; and of the greater horrors of the succeeding 
earthquake shocks, especially in the darkness, which seemed to forbid 
all hope of final escape. The worst time of all was the night of Mon- 
day. Few of them mention the effect of the seismic wave. 


Perhaps the most tragic note was struck by an elderly couple, who 
described how they were imprisoned in the lower part of their ruined 
house. They could only cry for help and heard no answer, save other 
cries for help from the darkness around them. 

At Messina it was impossible to pass through most of the streets, 
which were blocked with huge mounds of fallen debris. Here and there 
bodies, they said, could be seen in inaccessible places, pinned in by 
beams on masonry and projecting from the upper stories of the houses, 
sometimes lying half buried and horribly contorted. 

In front of the city the sea wall was broken up and fallen and the sea 
walk was sunk under water. Behind this were streets upon streets of 
fallen houses. In some places the appalling scenes seem to beggar all 

The correspondent of the Paris Figaro wired his paper about this 
time as follows: 

"As each day goes by the disaster appears more horrible, terrifying 
and immense. It is without precedent in the history of the world. In 
my earlier dispatches I spoke of over 150,000 dead. This number doubt- 
less will be exceeded, for now it is conservatively estimated that 200,000 
persons perished miserably in this staggering catastrophe, and the worst 
is not yet known. The scourge has not yet done its final work. 

"The tremblings of the earth continue with sinister rumblings, and 
at times jets of boiling water surge from the crevasses. The sources of 
the streams are poisoned with putrid matter. 


"In spite of herculean efforts, the succor still is insufficient. In the 
more remote regions the unhappy injured are dying for want of food and 
medical treatment. Dogs and swine, enraged by hunger, spring upon 
the wounded and devour them. Insatiable fire and uncontrolled famine 
will inexorably claim their victims." 

The Government hastily sent General Feira Di Cossatto, an army 
corps commander, to take full charge of the troops in the devastated 
territory. One of his first measures was to declare martial law. 


Vandalism of the worst kind had broken out, and the Government 
adopted the most energetic and most severe measures for its repression. 
Robbers and looters were shot on sight. 

As before narrated, the prison at Messina collapsed. Some of the 
prisoners were killed, but the survivors made their escape and joined the 
hooligans who were sacking the city. Such confusion reigned that the 
robbers met with no resistance. The local chief of police lay dead in 
the rooms of his office. 

The robbers pillaged the ruins of shattered buildings, and even stole 
clothing and valuables from the corpses of the victims. They were not 
deterred by the flames that broke out in several sections of the city, but 
took advantage of the light for their vandalism. The night in Messina 
was one of horror indescribable fire, robbery, dead and dying on every 
side, the city in the utmost confusion and the people panic-stricken and 
under a spell of terror. 

Time only confirms the unspeakable horrors of the overpowering 

History will, perhaps, never divulge its supremest individual trage- 
dies, for earth and sea ruthlessly claimed thousands of human beings, 
and the flames mercilessly completed the unfinished devastation. 

Heavy as was the toll of death in the great disaster, fully ten thou- 
sand, perhaps more, of the inhabitants of Messina escaped with 
their lives. Their stories will make history, yet few of th^m will show 
the wide perspective that the accounts of men aboard the sti'ps in the 
harbor exhibit. 


They saw the crash from a distance not too great for accuracy, yet 
still enough removed to lend an added touch to their words. 

Among the first calm and collected stories of the disaster as viewed 
from the deck of a vessel in the harbor came from the master of the 
Welsh steamer Afonwen, whose unemotional British temperament en- 
abled him to relate in detail his experiences and observations. 


"During the night before the catastrophe," said the captain of the 
Afonwen, "we lay at anchor in the harbor of Messina under steam ready 
to leave early the following day. It may have been about 5 o'clock in 
the morning when I heard a low growling sound like distant thunder. 
Daylight had not yet dawned, but I was on deck and the crew were stir- 
ring. The peculiar sound made me glance anxiously at the sky an^ 
then at the sleeping town of Messina, neither of which afforded any ex- 

"Suddenly the Afonwen gave a terrific leap. That is the only word 
I can use. The ship seemed to rise up from the surface of the water as 
though lifted bodily by some mighty power underneath. The anchor 
chains snapped and we started to drift shoreward very fast. 

"From the land came sounds of tremendous crashing and falling oi 
buildings. The low, muttering thunder which I first heard now became 
a roar of destruction. All the lights along shore went out in an instant. 
The darkness was intense. 

"Instinctively I knew this was an earthquake and that tidal waves 
were dashing us about the Straits. The first thing to do was to save the 
ship, for other craft were being thrown about on all sides and there was 
imminent danger of collisions. Another boat swept down upon us be- 
fore I could get the crew to their stations and the Afonwen under con- 
trol, but luckily the bump was slight and not much damage was done. 

"Now the sea became tremendously agitated with waves and walls 
of water rising on every side. The ship listed to her beam ends. The 
deck heeled over to an angle of 25 degrees, so that we scarcely could keep 
our feet. For thirty-five minutes it was touch and go. Once a great 


wall of water struck us with such violence that I thought all was over, 
but by a miracle we came through it. 

"It was like a cyclone from all points of the compass. The wind 
howled and the waves battered and swept the decks. Amazing and ter- 
rifying things were happening all around us. Great holes opened in the 
sea itself and seemed to reach down twenty to thirty feet, and some at 
lesser depths. 

"The water at first appeared to grow livid and then became white 
with foam. 

"As soon as the worst of the tidal wave had passed I tried to see 
what had befallen the town of Messina as the first faint streaks of day- 
light appeared, but nothing was visible of mole or buildings. I could see 
at first only the outline of the hills and a vast eddying cloud of dust which 
speedily enveloped everything and settled down over the ship like a fog. 


"With increasing daylight we could see how Messina had been de- 
stroyed. Before our eyes houses and palaces still were toppling and fall- 
ing to earth with noise like so many exploding powder magazines. Close 
behind us a Danish steamer had gone down and the surface of the water 
was littered with all manner of wreckage from it and other wrecked 

"When we looked at the land again it seemed to have taken on some 
fantastic coloring something between a yellow tint and an ashen gray. 
The city itself was black with smoke split by ominous red streaks i>f 
bursting flame. Gradually the sea calmed down and the roar of wind 
and waves decreased. 

"Then shrieks and groans reached our ears, and we could see hun- 
dreds of terror-stricken persons flocking down to the water's edge, wav- 
ing their arms and screaming frantically for help. Many of them plunged 
into the sea and SH r am out toward our ship. We took on board as many 
as could be accommodated." 

At the time of the earthquake the torpedo boat Sappho was lying 
in the harbor at Messina, and one of the officers told of the occurrences 
as follows : 


"At 5.30 in the morning the sea suddenly became terribly agitated, 
seeming literally to pick up our boat and shake it. Other craft were simi- 
larly treated and the ships looked like bits of cork bobbing about in a 

"Almost immediately a tidal wave, of huge proportions, swept across 
the Straits, mounting the coasts and carrying everything before it. Scores 
of ships were damaged, and the Hungarian mail boat Andrassy parted 
her anchors and went crashing into other vessels. Messina Bay was 
wiped out and the sea was soon covered with masses of wreckage, which 
was carried off in the arms of the receding waters." 

The later stories of ships* officers also depict the terrors of the scene 
with startling vividness. 


The commander of the Russian cruiser Admiral Makaroff, after it 
fiad arrived at Naples with refugees from Messina, gave the following 
account of the disaster : 

"Hearing at Agoata, Sicily, of the disaster, I hurried to Messina. 
The city was literally nothing but a heap of ruins. Every building col- 
lapsed, but in many cases the outward shells remained standing and as a 
result the general contour of the city was less changed than might be 

'This is particularly true of the sea front. In spite of what has been 
said, the form of the Straits of Messina show little if any change. 

"The harbor is filled with refuse of every kind, and at one end lies 
the wreck of a sunken steamship. 

"It is impossible to give even a faint idea of the desolation of the 
scene. Every now and then we heard the crash of falling floors and 
walls. This constituted the greatest danger to the rescuers. It was not 
safe to approach any standing masonry. Men from my vessel had many 
narrow escapes, and I saw several terrible accidents to the brave Italian 
soldiers, who were doing more than their duty. 

"We lost no time in setting about the work of rescue. We estab- 
lished an open-air hospital on the shore, where we received and treated 


1,000 men, women and children. We also saved the safe of the Bank of 
Sicily with its treasure, weighing two tons. 

"The mind shrinks from contemplation of the present condition in 
the stricken city; that there are thousands of persons still alive in the 
ruins, and that countless numbers must die. 

"The tidal wave lasted much longer than the earthquake. During 
all the time we were in the harbor of Messina our vessel shivered inter- 
mittently, as though shaken by some huge marine monster. 

"I could relate pathetic stories without number. Under some wreck- 
age, inclosed in a kind of little cubby-hole and protected by two heavy 
beams, I discovered two little babies, safe and uninjured. They were 
comfortable as possible, and laughing and playing with the buttons on 
their clothes. We could find no trace of their parents, who undoubtedly 
lost their lives. It made a terrible impression to see the bereaved chil- 


"Many little ones live while their parents are dead, and we saw many 
mothers with dead babies in their arms. It was also indescribably pain- 
ful to see the many who had gone crazy from grief. They searched and 
searched aimlessly for their loved ones, keeping up the quest even after 
t^ey had been brought on board our ship." 

The Serapin also brought to the outer world stones of heartrending 
separation of families and the hopeless and frantic seeking of relatives 
one for the other. Just as the steamship was leaving Messina a man 
made his way to the dock and called again and again for his wife and 
children. The people on board listened attentively. Then from the ves- 
sel came an answer : "I am here, I am here," in a woman's voice. "Are 
the children there?" came from the dock. "Yes, we are all here," the 
woman replied. But there was no note of joy from the unfortunate 
mother. Her heart could hold no happiness after the experiences of the 

Shortly after the Serapin docked at Naples a gangplank was low- 
ered and a few persons were allowed to board. The refugees were found 
sitting in isolated groups. They gave evidence of great mental depres- 


sion and were utterly exhausted. They seemed scarcely conscious oi 
their surroundings. Most of them were held in the thrall of their terrible 

A druggist named Pulco relates that at 25 minutes past 5 o'clock 
Monday morning he was on a ferryboat in the port of Messina, going 
to Reggio. Suddenly a gale of wind arose, bringing a heavy sea with u. 
Then a great chasm seemed to open in the water and the boat went down 
and struck the bottom. But the waters closed in again and the ferry- 
boat floated safely on top of the succeeding wave. Most of the people 
on board, however, were swept off and drowned. The boat was badly 
wrecked, but it floated ashore. Pulco was still on board. 

After the first panic, he landed and found Reggie like a city of the 
dead. Nobody was moving in the streets and the silence was broken 
only by the moans and groans and shrieks of the wounded. Pulco and 
several companions tried to extricate some wounded from the wreckage, 
but this was almost impossible because of the crumbling ruins. In one 
of the squares Pulco found a group of people all completely naked. 



/^ONSTANTINE DORESA, a London ship broker, had a wonderful 
^^ escape from the Trinacria Hotel. He tells a thrilling story of the 
earthquake disaster. He says : 

"It was a dark, still night, the coldest I ever felt in Sicily. I went 
to bed late, after putting extra covering on the bed. I was awakened 
without warning at 5.25 o'clock. The bed first rose up and then rocked 
violently. I clutched the sides of the bed, which seemed to be falling 
through space of ages. 

"Afterwards I estimated the time to be ten seconds. Then came a 
series of awful crashes, the roof falling all round me. I was smothered 
in brick and plaster. I knew it was an earthquake. I had been in one 
before in Athens. Then followed terrific crashes, mingled with a con- 
tinuous roar. 

"I felt for matches, struck a light and was horrified to find my bed 
on the side of an abyss." 

Doresa discovered Craiger, an English friend, and from the ruins 
rescued a Swede and his wife. Amid the appalling surroundings they 
succeeded in reaching the quay and getting aboard the Cardiff steamer 
Afonwen. Doresa then organized a rescue party composed of the Afon- 
wen's master, Captain Owen, three of his sailors and several Russian sail- 
ors. With Doresa and Craiger all returned to the Hotel Trinacria with 
ladders and ropes. 

En route on the balcony of a ruined building two little children were 
crying for help. The building seemed ready to collapse at any moment. 
Second Mate Read, of the Afonwen, did not hesitate. The children were 
directed to lower a string with a stone tied to it. They understood, and 
pretty soon a piece of stone was coming down. 

Meantime Read placed a ladder against a lower balcony. Then he 



turned to one of his seamen, who was standing by, and said : "Now then, 
Smith." Doresa adds: 

"I shuddered. It seemed like certain death. Smith turned his quid 
in his mouth, and without a word went up the ladder to the first balcony. 
Then, to the string which had been let down by the children, he attached 
a light line, which the children hauled up and placed around one of the 
standards at the top of the balcony. 


"By this means Smith hauled up a 2j4-inch manila rope. He then 
took off his boots and in a trice was shinning up the rope beside the 
crazy ruin. I held my breath. I have read of many brave deeds, but I 
never heard of one braver than Smith's. When he reached the top of 
the balcony he leaned over and shouted : 'Why, there's a ton of them up 
here. I can't manage all of them myself/ 

"Captain Owen turned to Read. It was enough. In a second Read 
was shinning up the rope hand over hand. We watched him with fear 
clutching our hearts. 

"There was a sigh of relief when we saw him standing beside Smith 
at the top of the building, which seemed to be rocking to its fall every 
second. The men aloft soon got to work. 

"One of Captain Owen's apprentices rendered great assistance. I 
stood at the foot of the ladder to prevent its slipping. The moments 
were flying. We did not know how soon the whole thing would col- 

"An Italian workman stood staring at us. I begged him to lend a 
hand, but his face only assumed a more vacant expression, if that were 
possible, and we were left to do the work ourselves. 

"Read and Smith made their hawsers fast. Then, one by one, they 
lowered the cowering creatures who had been awaiting death. From 
that crazy height the rope was lowered ten times, each time with a child 
resting in a slip noose the sailors had formed. 

"Then came an old woman, who was very stout. We had a great 
deal of trouble to get her down, but managed it at last. There was one 


man among the crowd of survivors. Smith threatened to throw him of? 
the building unless he helped to lower the woman. 

"At last the brave rescuers came down on the rope themselves. They 

had saved twelve people from certain death. They worked as coolly as if 

they had been on the ground. They had been in imminent danger of 

their lives, yet when they came down they quite resented our congratu- 

A lations. 


"There was other work for us nearby. We heard cries from a woman 
buried to the waist in the ruins of a shop. The buildings round her were 
blazing. Slowly but surely the cruel flames were creeping nearer to her. 
Could she be saved ? Captain Owen's sharp command sent Read rushing 
to the Blake, a ship moored at the quay. In a few minutes he was back 
with a saw. He dashed through the flames and began with frantic energy 
to saw through the plank that held the woman fast. We waited in ter- 
rible suspense. 

"Then, with relief, we saw the end of the plank fall away and Read 
came through the flames bearing the rescued woman in his arms. 

"Just then an officer came up and asked to what ship these men be- 
longed, and said he would send an account of their splendid bravery to 
his government, and hoped they would recognize it. 

" 'Meantime/ he added, 'I can only thank the men for their heroic 
efforts/ At this moment we heard cries from back of the Hotel Trin- 
acria, which had been left standing. We saw Signer Cogi on a narrow 
ledge and rescued him. 

"After rescuing others the party returned to the Afonwen, loaded a 
boat with food and returned to the shore to distribute it. Captain Owen 
left me in charge of the boat while he carried out the distribution. While 
I was guarding it five Italian soldiers came up and tried to seize it in 
order to escape to the mainland. I knew it was our only hope, so I 
threatened to shoot the first man who touched it. They made off. 

"There were from twenty to thirty shocks during the day. Prowling 
among the ruins were panic-stricken fugitives and escaped prisoners, the 
latter looting. I saw wretches hacking off the^ fingers of the dead to get 


their rings. Nothing came amiss for them. In one case ihty raided 
a woman's shoeshop and marched out with all the latest Paris and Lon- 
don creations. 

"We were cut off from the world. All the wires, were down. We 
could not see the lights of Reggio, which told of destruction. All things 
seemed to be returning to savagery. Early Tuesday morning we saw 
some silent gray monsters tearing up the Straits, and we could soon dis- 
tinguish the white ensign. The British fleet had come. 

"It brought the first help from the. outside world. It brought sur- 
geons, medical appliances, food and clothing. As soon as the sailors 
landed they began to restore order. It was soon found that stern meas- 
ures were necessary. 


"Rifles were brought and the looters were treated with scant cere- 
mony. Martial law had been proclaimed, and the thieves were shot at 
sight. The presence of these bodies of disciplined men had a remarkable 
and immediate effect. 

"I must not forget to say a word about the Russians. Some Russian 
warships arrived in the afternoon of Tuesday. They immediately got to 
work. It was curious to notice the difference between them and our 
British forces. 

"They didn't have our machine-like discipline or our peculiar handi- 
ness which enables our sailors to do everything that comes along, but 
they showed wonderful kindliness and sympathy. I watched the big Rus- 
sian sailors gently handling little children and soothing their fears with 
simple words, which, although in a foreign tongue, seemed to calm the 
little ones. They were just as gentle with the wounded, handling them 
with almost womanly tenderness. 

"As Tuesday wore on, things began to assume an altered aspect. 
The wounded, wherever it was possible, were taken by the ships to Pa- 
lermo and Naples. The dead were buried where it was possible. It will 
be days before many of the corpses can be reached. My local agent, for 
instance, who had money on him, is buried thirty feet deep under the 
ruins of his offices. 


'Tuesday afternoon we left on the Afonwen for Naples. It has been 
said that navigation of the Strait of Messina has been rendered unsafe. I 
should like to cot rect that statement. I saw several vessels go through 
Monday night. 

"There is no doubt vast changes have been brought about in the bed 
of the strait. The Afonwen was lying at anchor in forty-five fathoms 
of water. When she weighed anchor Captain Owen found there were 
only thirty fathoms. As to the residents of Messina, I cannot say they 
did much to help. They seemed to be completely panic-stricken, but 
their need is great and their distress appalling. Having escaped death 
myself I can speak feelingly for the helpless residents of Messina." 


A young doctor named Rossi gave a vivid account of his experi- 
ences. His escape was miraculous, and by his calmness and energy he 
was able to rescue others from imminent death. The doctor was pre- 
paring to leave Messina by an early train Monday morning, the day of 
the disaster. 

"Suddenly the profound silence was broken by an extraordinary 
noise like the bursting of a thousand bombs," he says. "This was fol- 
lowed by a rushing and torrential rain. Then I heard a sinister whistling 
sound that I can liken to a thousand red hot irons hissing in water. Sud- 
denly there came violent rhythmic movements of the earth, and the crash- 
ing down of nearby walls made me realize the awful fact of the earth- 
quake. Falling glass, bursting roofs and a thick cloud of dust added to 
the horror of the situation, while the extraordinary double movement, 
rising and falling at the same time, crumbled walls and imperiled my 

"I rushed into the room where were my mother and sister and with 
a rope which, fortunately, I had with me, I succeeded in rescuing them. 
I was also successful in getting out of the house a number of other per- 
sons who had given themselves up for lost. Then some soldiers came 
and helped me, and together we dragged forth several women and chil- 
dren from the tottering walls of a half-destroyed palace nearby. A few 
seconds later this building was entirely demolished. 


"There were scenes of indescribable horror in the streets and squares 
through which my party made its way." 

Another survivor says: 

"I was thrown out of bed. Then the floor of my room collapsed and 
I fell into the apartment under me. Here I found a distracted woman 
searching for her sister and son, whom she found dead. We remained 
in the ruins for twenty-four hours, alone, without food or drink. We 
'made a rough shelter of boards to keep off the rain. 

"Our ears were assailed with the cries and moans of the wounded. 
These sounds abated somewhat during Monday night. Still no one 
came to our assistance. We were as in a tomb, with the bodies of our 
children beside us. We could see no one, but every time sounds were 
heard from the street there would come an outburst of piercing cries for 
help from the injured pinioned in the wreckage. 

"Tuesday morning we ventured forth and were taken aboard a ves- 
sel in the harbor, on which we went to Naples. Messina was entirely de- 
stroyed. We passed over streets that were vast crevasses and climbed 
over great mounds of ruins and wreckage that were all that remained of 
the finest palaces of Messina." 

He arrived in Rome half covered with burns. His wife was clothed 
in little else than counterpane. 


Among others whose tragic tales wrung the hearts of his listeners 
was Edward Ellis, an English visitor at Messina. 

His story, as he himself tells it, is as follows : 

"I was on the second floor of the Hotel Trinacria," he said. "When 
the earthquake came I was in bed asleep. It shot me out on the floor 
and then turned the floor over on top of me. I managed to crawl out 
from under, with practically nothing on, and made a frantic rush for the 
door, but found it impossible to open. 

"I gave myself up for lost. Both floor and ceiling went crashing 
down and I was left hanging to the door. The room seemed whirling 
round and round, and great gaps opened in the walls. A moment later 
everything collapsed and the whole structure fell. I landed on a heap of 


mattresses, clothing and furniture and though much bruised was not dis- 

"Right in front of me in the black darkness I heard moaning. I put 
out my hand and touched something horrible. When I drew it back 
my hand was cJored crimson. Some one was dying there, but I was un- 
able to afford any help. 

"Gradually I worked my way out from the debris of the fallen hotel 
and finally was able to rise to my feet. I began to walk over ruins, but 
the earth was still heaving, and several times I fell. The thick dust was 
almost suffocating. All around rose cries for help. Two men rushed 
past me so frantically that I was again thrown down, but I got up and 
struggled on. 


"I felt that constantly I was treading on bodies, and perhaps on 
living persons. Once the body of a woman fell down on me from some- 
where overhead. 

"I suppose I had walked two hours when, suddenly, I went waist- 
deep into water. A man helped me out and pointed the direction of Ma- 
rina. But my troubles were not over. The wild figure of a man plastered 
with mud rose up before me and barred my passage. He was clearly 
mad, and only after a desperate struggle did I get away from him. 

"Next I found myself in a street where every house was on fire, and 
I saw no way out until a building fell clown and smothered the fire suffi- 
ciently in one place to afford me a path over the rubbish. 

"Even then an enormous heap of wreckage lay in my way, which 
for some time I vainly tried to surmount. In my endeavors I fell into a 
deep hole, but in it I found some pieces of furniture and half broken steps, 
which helped me at last to climb to the top of the heap. 

"Weakened and exhausted, I slipped and began rolling helplessly 
down the hillside, and was unable to stop until I want splashing into the 
sea. This was the end of my troubles, for I was picked up and taken 
aboard the steamer." 



A CHILLE CARRARA, agent of the General Steam Navigation Com- 
pany in Messina, gives the following account of his experiences, 
which throws some new light on the circumstances of the disaster: 

"Frantic with terror I shouted for my wife, my children and my ser- 
vants, and assembled them under the arch of the window. The house 
rocked, but it remained erect. We dressed in darkness and blinding 
dust, while everything heaved about us. We staggered down the reel- 
ing staircase to the street. 

"The street was choked with the ruins of the surrounding buildings, 
and masonry was falling. The injured were shrieking from their tombs 
beneath the wreckage, and the ground was split up everywhere. Hor- 
ror was piled on horror, and inky blackness pressed upon us with here 
and there a flame shooting out from among the wreckage. 

"At daylight we found our way to the harbor, where the tidal wave 
had thrown the water 14 feet above the quay and broken every vessel 
adrift. The harbor was full of wreckage, casks and capsized skiffs. Four 
steamers, which had been flung on the quay, had been refloated as the 
great wave receded, and were hanging by their anchors. They were the 
Elro, Drake, Varez and another. We hailed the Drake, and were taken 
aboard and well attended to. 

"Later the captain of the Drake sent a party with me to rescue my 
relatives, who lived in the north end of Messina. 

"The British consulate was found to be a mere dust heap. I located 
what had been my brother's house, and after digging for hours with our 
hands succeeded in breaking our way through the fallen masonry, Bart- 
ers and broken furniture. We rescued my brother, his wife and child 
and 1 8 other persons. We found no trace of my father, mother, grand- 



mother, sister or aunt, and all must have been crushed under the ruins 
of the three houses." 

Carrara adds that "during Monday night two fresh and terrible 
shocks razed to the ground what was left of the town." 

One old man on the streets of Naples was carrying a little girl in his 
arms. The child was covered with blood. "Is that your child?" he was 
asked. "No," he replied. "Yesterday I found her on the pavement in 
Messina. I picked her up and cared for her. No one claimed her and 
I couldn't abandon her. I have had her in my arms ever since." With 
this touching explanation the old man became oblivious to his questioner 
and everything around him. 

The Serapin took to Naples records of numberless tragedies. Fami- 
lies separated, mothers moaning and crying for their dead children, hus- 
bands and wives lost to each other, or a sole survivor wishing that he had 
not been spared. There was one girl on board the steamship, her 
clothing tattered and torn, who had saved a canary bird. She was a 
music h?.!S singer and had clung to her pet throughout the terrible 
scenes of devastation. The bird was the only happy thing on board the 

The stories told by these unfortunate refugees are almost unbelieva- 


A soldier named Emilio de Castro relates that on Sunday, the day 
before the disaster, he was taken sick and was sent to the military hos- 
pital. Early Monday morning he was awakened by a tremendous roar- 
ing sound. He felt himself falling and thought he was in the grip of a 
nightmare. It seemed to him that he had awakened in hell, for the air 
was filled with terrifying shrieks. He soon realized, however, what was 
happening. His bed struck the floor below and he was still on it. It 
paused a moment and was again precipitated. He struck the next floor, 
but this gave way at once, and thus man and bed came down from the 
fifth floor of the hospital to the ground. The soldier was not injured. 

After being imprisoned four days Deputy Nicolo Fulci's wife was 
extricated from the ruins, and it is hoped she may survive. Her young 


niece also was brought out alive, but died soon afterward. Men 
searched long for the Deputy, whose voice was heard up to Wednesday 
night calling for aid. 

An infant clothed in a little night shirt was rescued well and unin- 
jured after having laid four days on a square yard of flooring in a house 
that was otherwise entirely demolished. 

The Archbishop of Messina was found alive in the ruins of his 

The Marquis de Semmola was buried in the cellar of his residence, 
but found a larder and kept himself alive until he was rescued. 

The Mother Superior of St. Vincent Military Hospital, at the risk 
of her own life, alone and unaided, saved Colonel Minicci and his daugh- 
ter from the ruins of their home. 

Flora Parini, an actress, lying half buried in wreckage, heard the 
voice of a lieutenant of artillery close at hand, who had recognized her, 

"Signorina, save me! Call some one to rescue us. Don't leave 
me. I was at the theatre last night, and I applauded your singing. I 
have a mother; don't leave me to die." 


The woman was eventually dug out, led her rescuers to where the 
soldier was pinned down, and he, too, was saved. 

The sufferings of persons buried in the ruins was awful to con- 
template. Dead bodies have been found which bear mute testimony 
to the torture endured before death. Several died gnawing their arms 
and hands, evidently delirious from pain and hunger. Other bodies had 
parts of shawls and clothing in the mouths. One woman's teeth were 
firmly fixed in the leg of a dead babe. 

Signer Vidala, the proprietor of a local newspaper, relates that he 
was superintending the printing of an edition when the shock came. He 
managed to get out to the street before the building Collapsed, and 
groped his way to the Place Cavour, which had been transformed ivto 
a huge crevasse. 

For the first ten minutes after the initial shock one long cry of 


anguish seemed to rise from the city, then there was comparative si- 
lence for a short while. 

The worst shocks were over by 6 o'clock. 

Vidala made his way to his home, and found his family under the 
ruins. As he was telling his tale a wild-looking individual, in strange 
clothing, came up to the correspondent and the newspaper proprietor. 

"I also am bereft of all my family," he interrupted. "I now am 
alone in the world like you, Vidala/' It was evident that this man was 
half crazy. He had saved a daughter from the ruins, but his two sisters 
had been killed. Later he died of his injuries. 

Signor Serao, owner of the house in Messina where English Con- 
sul Ogston resided, escaped. The part of the house where Serao lived 
did not fall. He rushed out after the first shock, and met Stuart K. Lup- 
ton, the American Vice-Consul, in the street. Signor Serao says: 

"It is impossible for the wildest imagination to picture anything 
more terrific than the destruction of Messina. Climbing over broken 
beams, shattered walls and broken furniture, we finally reached the spot 
where the American Consulate had stood. 

"The Consular building was about three stories high. It had en- 
tirely collapsed. We could hardly believe our eyes. Mr. Lupton 
climbed over the ruins calling out 'Cheney! Cheney!' Confident that 
the Consul would answer him, he said to me : 

' 'Daylight has not come yet and that is why I cannot see him, but 
he must be somewhere in the wreckage.' 


"Our search became more and more feverish, but as time wore on 
and it was still unsuccessful we finally realized its hopelessness. We 
saw it would be impossible to reach even the bodies of the unfortunate 
Cheneys. In addition to the collapse of the Consulate a neighboring; 
building had been precipitated upon the Consular ruins and the whole 
was a vast mass of wreckage. 

"Touched by Mr. Lupton's dispair I tried to console him, saying 
that undoubtedly the Cheneys had been vouchsafed the mercy to die 


immediately and not linger alive under the debris. We then left the 
ruins of Mr. Cheney's home, having done everything in our power. 

"With Mr. Lupton I went on board the Standard Oil steamer Ches- 
apeake, where we remained for the rest of Monday. We transferred 
afterward to the British ship Minorca. 

"Mr. Lupton was most anxious to communicate with the depart- 
ment at Washington and managed to get a wireless message through 

"Later Mr. Lupton and I, together with a party of British sailors, 
went ashore again. Mr. Lupton was most anxious to learn if there had 
been any American victims of the earthquake. I was able to reassure 
him as, having lived in Messina forty years in constant touch with the 
American Consulate I never knew of a single American resident. 

"To make assurance doubly sure we questioned everybody we met 
who would be at all likely to know of any Americans, especially the man- 
agers and the waiters of the Hotel Trinacria." 


A woman gave the following account of her experience : 

"As soon as I could get out of my house I ran in the direction of 
the water front. I noticed that the greater portion of the main thor- 
oughfare of the city, the Via Garibaldi, was destroyed. A thick dust 
prevented me from seeing more than three feet in any direction. From 
every side I heard the cries of the wounded and the shrieks of terrified 
women. I struggled through water and mud up to my knees, and suc- 
ceeded in gaming one of the docks. From there I was taken on board 
a cruiser in the harbor. 

"While on my way down to the water, groping through the dust 
and darkness, a band of about 100 persons rushed upon me like maniacs. 
They were fleeing up-town. They separated me from my companion, 
whom I never saw again." 

Two doctors who succeeded in escaping declared that entire streets 
caved in. One of the doctors was sleeping in a room on the third floor 
when the first shock came, and saved himself by gripping the roof of a 
neighboring house. 


A ferryboat moored at one of the docks seemed suddenly to be 
thrown high into the air. It landed on top of the dock, and was left 
hanging there by the receding waters. This was the first intimation of 
the crew that anything had happened. 

The captain of the boat says a huge cloud of dust obscured the city. 
With dawn came an overwhelming picture of devastation. The captain 
and his men landed and tried to make their way into the city, but the 
fallen buildings and the twisted streets made progress impossible. 

$2,000,000 IN TREASURE SAVED. 

The entire local treasury of the Messina branch of the Bank of 
Italy, some $2,000,000, was saved and taken on board an Italian warship. 

The rescuers at Messina were rapidly exhausted. The fires raged 
long, and there was no water with which to combat the flames. Many 
of the people refused to leave the ruins of their houses. They clung 
to the sites of their homes, crying out that their only safety was in fidel- 
ity to the wrecks of their houses. Force often was necessary to get 
them to the ships in the harbor. 

A dispatch from Deputy Felice at Messina said: 

"Organize a squadron of volunteers for rescue work. Send us 
food, for we are dying of hunger. A number of the survivors are leav- 
ing to-day for Catania. Receive them with love and fraternity. It is the 
duty of every family in Catania to shelter a family from Messina." 

Only two members of the municipal Council of Messina survived the 

The bluejackets from the Russian warships at Messina performed 
valorous service. They risked their lives recklessly in the work of ex- 
tricating the wounded. 

A roll-call of the Eighty-ninth Regiment of Infantry reveals that 
the organization has only ten survivors. A man named Roberto, the 
sole survivor of his family, became mad from grief in Catania and com- 
mitted suicide. 

Lily Wolffsohn, an Englishwoman, collected some graphic stories 
from the survivors. One man, employed by a German cotton firm in 
Messina, said: 




































"Messina is utterly destroyed. Nothing remained when I left but 
part of the citadel. A few soldiers were the bare survivors of the whole 
garrison, and here and there a horse is seen asleep standing erect. 

"When the first shock awoke me, I lit my lamp, but all was quiet, 
and I turned to sleep again. Suddenly, fresh shocks occurred in violent 
and terrific repetition. I rose, but the house was swaying and my dooi; 
jammed. I tore sheets from the bed and made a rope and lowered my- 
self from the window to the street. An Italian family of five persons 
escaped from the house with the aid of my rope. 


"No sooner were we in the street than the house collapsed. I tried 
to help in the work of rescue, but it was useless. All day I wandered in 
the wrecked streets. No food could be got, and I had only a few nuts 
to eat. 

"The head of my firm, who lost his brother, had to go through the 
streets begging for bread for his wife and children. There was no or- 
ganization in the work of rescue. The Messina prison was destroyed 
and the warders killed, but most of the convicts escaped, and they 
prowled among the ruins, robbing and murdering. They cut off the 
fingers of the dead and wounded to take the rings, some of them sing- 
ing songs as they plied the knife. 

(/ 'A Russian vessel lying in the harbor was thrown into the street 
by the tidal wave and other vessels foundered. The railway lines sank 
into the ground. The square known as Campo Santo collapsed and 
sank and only the summits of a few ruined buildings still emerge from the 
wreck. The fugitive population when I left was camping near the har- 




IV/T ME. KARALECH, a Hungarian prima donna, who was in Mes- 
sina at the time of the earthquake, gives this account of her 
thrilling escape from a horrible fate: 

"I had appeared at the opera the night before in 'Aida/ and had re- 
turned to Hotel Trinacria, retiring to rest at 2.30, but could not sleep. 
As 1 was lying awake I suddenly felt the hotel rock and collapse. 

"I leaped from a window, breaking both arms in the fall. Despite 
the pain, which I scarcely felt, I picked myself up and started running 
toward the shore. 

"I was joined by a number of other frightened refugees, all stag- 
gering blindly on, uttering cries and lamentations. 

"Ultimately we arrived at the beach, when we were taken on board 
the Italian cruiser Piemonte and conveyed to Palermo." 

A woman who escaped unhurt told of her experience : 

"We were all sleeping in my house when we were awakened by an 
awful trembling which threw us out of our beds. I cried out that it was 
an earthquake, and called to the others to save themselves, while I 
quickly pushed a few clothes into a valise. The shocks continued, seem- 
ing to grow stronger. The walls cracked and my bureau split in two 
and then crashed to the floor, nearly crushing me. My hands trembled 
so that I could scarcely open the doors. 

"To increase the terror a rainstorm, accompanied by hail, swept 
through the broken windows. Finally, with my brother and sister, I 
succeeded in gaining the street, but soon lost them in the mad race of 
terror-stricken people, who surged onward, uttering cries of pain and 
distress. During this terrible flight balconies, chimneys and tiles show- 
ered down upon us continuously. Death ambushed us at every step. 
Instinctively I rushed toward the water front, transformed into a muddy, 



miry lake, in which I slipped and often fell. I only learned afterward 
.hat I was rescued, senseless, by a soldier and carried to a train.*" 

The following graphic story is told by a woman who escaped, badly 

" Infernal' is the only word that will absolutely describe the fearful 
and terrifying scene," she said. 

"When the first shock came most of the city was fast asleep. I 
was awakened by the rocking of the house. Windows swayed and rat- 
tled and crockery and glass crashed to the floor. The next moment I 
was violently thrown out of my bed to the floor. I was half stunned, but 
knew that the only thing to do was to make my way out of doors. The 
streets were filled. Everybody had rushed out in their night clothes, 
heedless of the rain falling in torrents. Terrific shrieks arose from all 
sides and we heard heartrending appeals for help from the unfortunates 
pinned beneath the ruins. 


"Walls were tottering all around us, and not one of my party ex- 
pected to escape alive. My brothers and sisters were with me, and in a 
frenzy of terror we groped our way through the streets, holding our own 
against the panic-stricken people and clambering over piles of ruins, 
until we finally reached a place of comparative safety. But this was not 
done before I was struck down and badly injured by a piece of furniture 
that fell out of the upper story of a house. 

"All along the road we were jostled by scores of fleeing people, half 
clad like ourselves. The houses seemed to be crashing to the ground in 
whatever direction we turned. 

"Suddenly the sea began to pour into the town. It seemed to me 
that this must mean the end of everything. The oncoming waters 
rolled in in a huge wave, accompanied by a terrifying roar. 

"The sky was aglow with the reflection of burning palaces and 
other buildings, and as if this was not enough there suddenly shot up 
into the sky a huge burst of flame, followed by a crash that seemed to 
shake the whole town. This probably was the gas works blowing up. 

"Eventually we reached the principal square of Messina. Here were 


found two or three thousand utterly terrified people assembled. None 
of us knew what to do. We waited in an agony of fear. Men and 
women prayed, groaned and shriekeo. I saw one of the big buildings 
fronting on the square collapse. It seemed to me that scores of persons 
were buried beneath the ruins. Then I lost consciousness and I remem- 
ber no more." 

A. J. Ogston, British Vice-Consul, escaped with his daughter, but 
was badly hurt. 

"At the first shock," he said, "my wife rushed to a cot and snatched 
up the child. As we were passing a building a balcony fell and killed 
my wife. By a miracle the child escaped unhurt. 

"I rushed to the municipal square, where 50 people had gathered, 
and we ran madly for the open country, balconies, columns and chimneys 
falling around us in a terrifying manner. The members of our party 
were struck down half a dozen at a time, and when we reached a place 
of safety only four of the party remained. The others undoubtedly were 


A wounded soldier relates this thrilling tale of his miraculous es- 
cape. Between his tears for the fate of his less fortunate companions 
he said: 

"The spectacle was terrifying beyond words. Dante's 'Inferno* 
gives you but a faint idea as to what happened at Messina. The first 
shock came before the sun had risen. It shook the city to its very foun- 
dations. Immediately the houses began to crumble. Those of us who 
were not killed at once made our way over undulating floors to the 
street. Beams were crashing down through the rooms, and the stairs 
were equally unsafe. 

"I found the streets blocked by fallen houses. Balconies, chimneys, 
bell towers, entire walls had been thrown down. From every side of me 
arose the screams and moanings of the wounded. The people were half 
mad with excitement and fear. Most of them had rushed out in their 
night clothes. In a little while we were all shivering under a torrential 
downpour of rain. Everywhere there were dead bodies, nude, disfig- 


ured and mutilated. In the ruins I could see arms and legs moving help- 
lessly. From every quarter came piteous appeals for aid. 

"The portion of the town down near the water was inundated by th\ 
tidal wave. The water reached to the shoulders of the fugitives and 
swept them away. 

"The City Hall, the Cathedral and the barracks crumbled, and 
churches, other public buildings and dwellings without number were lit- 
erally razed to the ground. There were 200 customs agents at the bar- 
racks; only 41 of them were saved. At the railroad station only eight 
out of 280 employes have been accounted for. 

"Many of those who succeeded in escaping with their lives are in- 
capable of relating their experiences coherently. I questioned all who 
were in a condition to talk. Most of them told the same story. They 
said the first thing they knew they were thrown out of bed, and amid 
crashing ceilings and falling furniture managed to make their way to the 
street. Then, in the blackness of night and amid a pouring rain that 
added to their horror and distress, they rushed blindly away amid the 
crash of tumbling buildings and the shrieks and groans of those buried 
in the ruins. Many, while trying to escape, were struck down by falling 
balconies and masonry, and still many others lost their reason and are 
to-day wandering aimlessly in the open fields outside the city or up and 
down the ruined streets they knew so well. 


"The looters and the robbers were shot dead by the rifles of the 

But perhaps the best account of the terrible scenes in Messina and 
its neighboring towns following the disaster is furnished in the accounts 
of the Marquis di Ruvolito, the first written from Catania on the second 
day following the earthquake and the next on the succeeding day. 

The Marquis said: 

"I have just returned from Messina. The city is absolutely de- 
stroyed. The spectacle is a terrifying one, the ruins are a prey to the 
roaring flames. 

"The great conflagration started immediately after the earthquake 


and devoured all that the shocks had spared. Nearly the entire popula- 
tion is buried in debris. 

"The calculations place the total number of survivors at only 10,000. 

"Thus the dead at Messina and its environs alone will reach the 
stupendous figure of nearly 100,000. 

"Help from the outer world is at last beginning to reach the stricken 
city. The British armored cruiser Sutler steamed in from Malta and 
was followed by the Russian battleships Slava and Tsaritsa and the ar- 
mored cruiser Admiral Makaroff. The officers and men of the two navies 
gave every possible aid, yet their task is a fearful one. 

"Under the pelting rain open-air hospitals are being installed in what 
were once the streets of the town. The sights on every hand are so 
tragic it is almost impossible to describe them adequately in terms of the 
human language. The utmost depths of anguish and suffering seem to 
have been reached and imagination stands aghast before the effect of this 


"The garrison in Messina perished in the ruins and persons who sur- 
vive unhurt cannot escape from the vast smoldering tomb in w'nich their 
kinsmen, wives, husbands, parents and children lie. The sea is closed to 
them for want of ships and they are suffering from the cruel extremities 
of hunger and thirst. 

"Here and there they can be seen searching eagerly for some mor- 
sels to eat or water to drink, but the heaps of dust and debris yield them 
nothing. At every turn some lamentable scene meets the eye, men and 
women half naked and terribly injured imploring relief. 

"The hospital and chemists shops have disappeared and there are 
neither drugs nor surgical instruments. The Government officials from 
Catsnia are doing their utmost. The Catania fire brigade also arrived 
and is working with the Russian sailors to extinguish the fires. 

"An Italian battleship reached Messina to-day and landed seamen 
and soldiers, while troops are on the way from Catania and Naples. 

"But it will take at least a year to remove the dead from under the 
ruins. The catastrophe surprised the people while they were asleep, 
which helps explain the immensity of the loss. The prison collapsed and 


many of the prisoners escaped, so that a number of desperadoes are let 
loose upon the ruined city. 

"The custom house, railroad station and all buildings and institutions 
disappeared, not a single official or public functionary remaining. 

'The streets are so completely gone that it is impossible to find one's 
way about. The offices of the Bank of Italy have been wrecked, but the 
safes in the strong rooms remain intact with their treasure in them. 

"Some few dead have already been recovered from the ruins and 
buried in the public gardens. The search for the wounded and injured 
in the debris is being vigorously prosecuted and there is hope that even 
now, two days after the earthquake, further rescues may be made." 

In his second letter, written on the day following, Marquis di Ru- 
volito says : 

"I am sending this message by motor car to Catania, as it is still 
impossible to telegraph from Messina or the neighborhood. 

"The estimate of the total dead in Messina, Reggio and all Calabria 
has risen to 300,000. 


"The disaster exceeds all efforts of imagination and the havoc is so 
vast and universal I scarcely know how begin to describe it. The horror 
of it all is, indeed, beyond words. 

"When I enter the ruined area from Catania I find myself a prey to 
indescribable emotions. The spectacle that greets the eye here is be- 
yond the imagination of Jules Verne. The Corso Cavour at Messina is 
nothing but a huge mound of stones. In company with a deputy I en- 
deavored to explore it. It was 5 o'clock in the evening and already dark, 
and rain was falling. We first saw a homeless family sitting on a heap 
of stones. They were half naked and huddled together under a single 
umbrella. We asked them to come with us and be relieved, but they 
refused, saying they preferred to die on the ruins of their home. 

"Hard by a poor white-haired woman was shivering on the ground, 
covered only with a bed quilt. She begged for help, saying she had 
been an artist at the Pelolo Theatre. She was barefooted and practi- 
cally naked and said she had eaten nothing in three days. We asked her 


k> come with us to the station, but she would not go save on condition 
we brought her a pair of shoes. This was impossible. 

"We were then forced to return on account of darkness, and, tired 
and hungry, we arrived at the station. It was thronged with a half-mad, 
terrified crowd. There was no water and nothing to eat and nowhere 

to sit down. 


"Numbers of peasants from surrounding villages have flocked into 
town to rob the corpses and sack the ruins. The authorities have or- 
dered that these ghouls, when found, be immediately shot. Twenty were 
thus executed yesterday, and one wretch was discovered by a Russian 
sailor in the act of cutting off a finger from a corpse for the sake of a 
ring, and was shot with a revolver. Martial law has been proclaimed. 

"The survivors were awakened from their sleep by the disaster and 
ran unclothed into the streets. Subsequently they were compelled to 
cover themselves with anything they could find. The results would in 
other circumstances be ludicrous, some of the men being clothed in skirts 
and bodices and some of the women in military uniforms, while others 
of both sexes have nothing but blankets wrapped round them. 

"Here among the ruins I encountered an acquaintance, Baron di 
Scotti. He was covered with mud. He wore a pair of white undergar- 
ments, an opera hat and wooden sabots. I met a survivor of an Italian 
family named Bonanno. He carried a dead child in his arms and ap- 
peared to have lost his reason. Several people were literally stricken 
dumb by the catastrophe, but their silence was counteracted by the 
groanings from the wounded who still linger invisible, but not inaudible,, 
beneath the ruins. 

"Help is arriving constantly from Catania and Palermo by sea to 
relieve the thirst and famine. The whole Calabrian shore for a distance 
of nearly thirty miles was torn and twisted by the convulsions of the earth 
and sea. Neither bridges nor ferryboats exist, all having been destroyed. 

"The town of Villa San Giovanni was destroyed, and Scilla, Pizzo and 
Bagnara shared its fate, in each case the havoc of the earthquake being 
completed by the outbreak of fire. 

"One fugitive declared that the hills opened and swallowed up four 


towns. It would be utterly impossible to attempt to give any kind of a 
list of dead, survivors and injured. " 

Another thrilling account was furnished by a newspaper man who 
reached Messina after an adventurous journey on foot through the wasted 
Calabria region. 

"I arrived at last at Messina, with my legs almost dropping off, after 
tramping thirty-one consecutive hours, covering a distance of forty-one 
miles. My nerves will never recover from the atrocious impressions to 
which they were subjected, and my eyes will retain as long as they remain 
open the vision of death and devastation which oppresses them. A 
mournful silence covers the country like a funeral pall. 

"I proceeded as far as Palmi by train, and thence afoot. Six or 
seven inhabitants accompanied me to Tropead, and I decided to reach 
Reggio at whatever cost. Two or three railroad firemen, cut off from 
home while at duty by the catastrophe, were returning to seek news of 
the fate of their families. They preceded me, brandishing resinous, 
smoky torches. We marched in Indian file through the tunnel from 
Palmi to Bagnara, holding hands and stumbling over ballast heaps. The 
roof of the tunnel was cracked everywhere, and now and then rocks fell. 
Whole families were encamped around wood fires and smoking torches. 
Many of them were wounded. Men, women and children, stupefied by 
the catastrophe and crouching among the stones, looked at us with vacant 
glares, as if their thoughts were wandering. 


"Some distance along we came upon families roasting sea birds which 
had been killed by the tempest and cast upon the beach. Others had 
the strangest objects packed in sacks. In reply to questions as to what 
had happened at Messina and Reggio, they made vague and desolate 
gestures, and continued to gaze at us like stalled oxen. After two hours' 
march we saw Bagnara, perched on the spur of a mountain overhanging 
the sea. 

"The country house of the Mayor, on the summit of the rock, was 
half tumbled into the sea, but the Mayor was safe. He was giving orders 
lor the installation of a telegraph wire in a freight car. Every htraw m 


the town and surrounding country was in ruins. In one I saw tumbled 
beds and disordered dining rooms. Seated on the broken wall was a man 
selling bread at exorbitant prices, amid a chorus of curses and maledic- 
tions. Another, demented, was trying to dig into the ruino with his 

'The tunnel beyond Bagnara was impracticable. An enormous por- 
tion of the mountain had fallen and obstructed the road. We were forced 
to walk in the sand, often up to our knees in water. Beyond the tunnel 
the track was torn and the rails twisted. Huge rocks and dangerous 
masses came rumbling down momentarily. We decided to climb the 
mountain and advance across the ravines of brushwood. 

"Night fell; the rain was coming down in a deluge. My guides 
marched more with their brains than their legs. I followed mechanically, 
though ready to drop. At n o'clock we reached Pavazzina, a hamlet 
of 300 inhabitants. Only seven persons remained and they were shiver- 
ing under the shelter of a couple of sheets stretched across two olive 
trees. They asked us pitifully for bread, but we ourselves had not eaten 
since the start, and we knew not what to answer; so we left them hope- 


"After eleven hours we had covered only twenty miles, every stop at 
the cost of the greatest exertions. Our clothes were soaked and the 
torches had burned out. At Scylla we decided to rest, but rest was im- 
possible. The whole countryside, except to the north, was completely 
blotted out. Walls were standing, but the interiors had collapsed, carry- 
ing down the sleeping occupants." 

Signor Birot, the Mayor of Brescia, in Lombardy was stopping at 
the Hotel Trinacria, in Messina, and was buried under the ruins of the 
building for five hours. Finally, several persons approached the place 
where he lay, but at that moment a fresh shock put them to flight. 
Eventually, a body of sailors extricated him unconscious and took him 
aboard a ship. 

Sunday night Signor Birot dined with a party of English, French 
and Germans at the hotel, all of whom perished. 


The twelve-year-old son of Professor Gabi saved his father and 
mother, who were buried under a mass of wreckage. 

A newspaper man, who left Messina for Taormina shortly before the 
catastrophe, turned back as soon as he learned what had happened, and 
approached Messina on foot. He was stopped in the outskirts by heaps 
of ruins. He then met people running wildly and crying for help. The 
nearer he got to the city the more awful were the sights. The railroad 
station was in flames. Everywhere he encountered half clad unfortunates 
fleeing through the night, under the pelting rain. He passed a cemetery 
and saw that the graves had burst open. Arriving at his own house, he 
found it completely destroyed and his wife dead under the ruins. 

A custom house officer at Messina has become deaf and dumb as 
a result of the shock. 

Sailors from the foreign warships had gathered together three hun- 
dred wounded and were caring for them in the public garden at Messina. 
Suddenly the improvised hospital caught on fire, and the sailors with 
difficulty saved two hundred of their patients, but it is feared that the 
others perished. 

Archbishop Arrigo, of Messina, who was at first reported killed, was 
rescued. He says : "I was in my chapel at the moment of the catastro- 
phe. When I endeavored to make my way out I found all the exits 
blocked with wreckage. I knelt before the figure of the Saviour, await- 
ing death, which I momentarily expected. I remained in the attitude of 
prayer through the rest of the night and the following day, when a rescue 
party reached me." 



"D UT Messina, while by far the greatest sufferer, was not the only city 
devastated. The gruesome roll of the dead elsewhere in tha 
stricken region equalled, in the aggregate, if it did not exceed that of the 
city by the straits. 

Messina had more property loss than any other one point. More 
men, women and children's lives were ground out there than in any other 

But that was only because Messina was the most populous town in 
the stricken region in that gory belt of death that stretched from the 
heart of the isle of Sicily northeastwards under the Straits of Messina 
and through the centre of Calabria, the most southerly of the provinces, 
or states, of the Kingdom of Italy. 

In Messina, horrible as was the disaster, one person in ten escaped 
the holocaust. 

In many of the smaller towns and villages within the range of many 
miles, not a human being lived to tell the tale when the sun rose on that 
memorable 28th day of December, 1908. 

Messina's prominence in the annals of the disaster is due more 
largely to the fact of its great size and reputation throughout the world 
than to the completeness of its destruction or to the proportionate loss 
of fife. 

Next to Messina, the quaint and beautiful city of Reggio di Calabria 
was the greatest sufferer. This charming town, the capital of the prov- 
ince of Calabria, lay nestled at the water's edge on the mainland, some 
eight miles or so to the southeast and across the straits. 

When Messina collapsed, steamships hastily put out to cross the 
straits for help. Half way over they met scarred and battered ships from 
the other oast, carrying the news that Reggio, too, had perished. 



And that before the terrible tidal wave that dashed from the opposite 
Sicilian shores had engulfed the city and had buried beneath its foam- 
ing crest almost all of what had remained of the city's fifty thousand in- 

Reggio, before the shock, was a live and prosperous port, and one 
of the most ancient cities of Italy. 

It was embalmed in the annals of history long before the Christian 
era, when it bore the name of Rhegium. 

Previous shocks of earthquake, especially the great one of 1783, had 
left its scars upon the ancient palaces and the cathedral, but until that 
one terrible day in the Christmas week of 1908 it still nestled in fancied 
security at the foot of grim Montalto, which reared its vine-clad head 
almost five thousand feet towards the heavens to the back of the town. 


To-day, the city is in utter ruin, ruin as complete as that which 
wiped Messina off the map. Yes, worse ! For the tidal wave here swept 
over the entire town, so deep that the bodies of fish were found, after 
the death-dealing flood finally had receded, as high up as the third floors 
of a number of houses that were so sturdily built that their shells at least 
were able to defy not only earthquake, but flood and flame. 

Could any human beings be expected to survive that shock, that 
flood, that fiery visitation that swept the still dripping ruins? Yet some 
few lived to tell the tale. Few enough. But some. 

Not a scene of horror at Messina but had its ghastly counterpart 

The tidal wave that swept into Reggio flooded the city to a depth 
of many feet above sea level. Some of the houses along the water front 
were swept from their foundations and dragged out to sea. 

Twelve miles of the railroad near Reggio were destroyed. 

The tempest added to the terror of the scene. 

The few Reggio survivors wandered nude and demented about th 
ruins of the city searching for food. 

Practically all the pupils of the Reggio College perished. The little 


vilki located on the heights alone escaped destruction. The chateau of 
R*g,gio was left a heap of ruins. 

The prison collapsed, and almost all the convicts, estimated to num- 
ber 1, 800, lost their lives. 

A group of travelers who were at the railroad station, awaiting the 
arrival of a train, were crushed under the debris of the building. 

All the railroad stations in a radius of twelve miles from Reggio were 

The sea front was entirely swept away so thoroughly undulated 
that for days seamen familiar with the coast from childhood could not 
recognize the place and believed that Reggio never had emerged from 
the waves. 

And yet there was much ground for this belief. The ruins of Reg- 
gio finally did emerge. But it was ruins only. For days it was impossible 
to approach the site by either sea or land. 


For a distance of twelve miles from the city, roads, bridges and foot- 
paths were destroyed. Even the face of the country was changed. It 
was impossible to get into Reggio even with automobiles. 

Only a few thousands out of the entire population escaped death or 

Lieutenant General Fiera Di Cossatto promptly ordered that all loot- 
ers and robbers be shot on sight. 

Martial law was a necessity. 

For many hours what was left of Reggio was completely isolated 
through interruptions to the telegraph and telephone and landslides that 
obstructed the railways. 

No news of the stricken city reached the outside world until midnight, 
and then it came from Messina in the form of a dispatch whicht a torpedo 
boat, flying at full speed along the coast of the peninsula, carried from 
point to point, always finding the wires down, until it reached Nicotera, 
where the telegraph lines were found to be intact. 

From this point the dispatch was sent. 

After summarizing the immensity of the catastrophe the telegram 


ended with the announcement that Captain Passino, commander of the 
station of torpedo boats, was buried under the debris after having with 
other officials performed heroic work in trying to save others. 

The Capucine monks at Reggio escaped death and did brave work 
in rescuing the less fortunate. Of the twenty-one nuns at the Convent 
of San Vincenzo di Paola, only seven remain alive. 

A tragic episode was the rescue of Deputy Demetrio Tripepi, Mayor 
of the town. His family escaped, but he disappeared and his children felt 
certain he was buried under the ruins. They set to work to find their 
father and they struggled with the ruins for twenty-four hours without 
rest and without food. Only a miracle, they thought, could bring him 
back to them. 

Eventually, however, the father appeared. He was badly injured 
but still alive. The joy of the family was not for long, for the deputy died 
soon afterward. Giuseppe Valentino, another member of the Chamber 
of Deputies, also was among the dead. 


One young woman of Reggio was a prisoner for forty-eight hours 
on the fifth floor of her home. She called for help, which none dare give 
her because of the unsafe condition o$ the walls. Finally, when a fire- 
man braved the danger and brought the girl down, she was found to have 
gone raving mad. Her mother and her father, two brothers and a sister, 
were lying dead in a room beside her. 

The station master at Reggio says that immediately after the first 
shock a chasm eighty feet wide was opened in the earth. From this there 
gushed forth a flood of boiling water, some jets rising to the height of 
an ordinary house. Many injured persons who were in this vicinity were 
horribly scalded by the flowing stream. 

As the station master made his way to a place of safety he saw human 
limbs sticking out from the masses of ruins. Frenzied relatives strove 
to free their dear ones from the fallen masonry, while shrieks from the 
miserable fugitives, rushing half naked and bleeding through the streets, 
filled the air. 

The sea inundated the suburbs of Reggio and destroyed countless 


acres of orange groves. The smaller houses of the peasants completely 
disappeared, the receding waters leaving them buried in mire. 

Corpses were everywhere in the outskirts of the city. The bridge 
near Pellaro was carried off by the sea, as were also entire sections of the 

The dead in Reggio were mutilated and distorted, their faces set in 
expressions of infinite terror and their poor bodies shattered and mis- 
shapen. Many of the injured died later. Of those who survived many 
appeared demented. 

One man who had but one arm came out of a ruined house and started 
a ghastly dance. He cried out that the whole thing was only a dream, 
that Reggio was safe, and that his wife and children were uninjured and 
peacefully sleeping in their beds. 

A laborer who escaped relates that shortly before daybreak a deaf- 
ening noise like the roaring of a hundred cannon was heard. This was 
followed by the subsidence of the entire lower portion of the city. At 
the same time the sea swept over the water front. The cathedral, all the 
municipal buildings and the barracks and the beautiful palaces that lined 
the Corso in a moment were heaps of ruins. 

After a brief period of paralysis, mental and physical, the work of 
relief began, but it did not take shape until the arrival of the King, days 


For forty-eight hours the crazed survivors had signalled in vain to 
passing steamships. All relief was hurrying to Messina. 

Barely fifty houses in Reggio remained standing, and the streets and 
squares were filled with bodies, which were being devoured by douds 
of ravens and crows. 

A state of most frightful anarchy prevailed. 

Mobs of ruffians roamed among the ruins, giving full vent to their 
vilest instincts. They were bent on pillaging the wrecked jewelry stores 
ai:d banks and did not hesitate to shed the blood of those opposing them. 

A few soldiers who escaped unhurt were impelled by an admirable 
spirit of discipline to organize patrols on their own initiative. They en- 


deavored to protect the property left intact, but the criminals fough* 
against them fiercely. 

The number of these criminals increased to such an extent that the 
soldiers were forced to fire on them. It was only after a pitched battle, 
in which several were shot and killed, that a semblance of order was re- 

All entrances to the city, or what was left of it, were guarded by sol- 
diers. Many of the survivors were lying exposed to the four winds of 

As a precautionary measure against an outbreak of pestilence, the 
bodies of persons killed in the earthquake were burned, and strong dis- 
infectants strewn among the ruins of the city. 

The troops set up field kitchens for baking bread in the streets. 
Strong guards were placed over clothing and provision stores, in order 
to prevent their being pillaged. 

Long term prisoners were embarked on board the battleship Napoli 
and others sent home. 

The rescuers were forced to guard themselves against the onslaughts 
of hundreds of dogs, raging with hunger, which sprang upon all comers. 
They were shot down as fast as possible and not a few of them were 
grabbed by the starving survivors and used as food. 

a ITA, 



A LTHOUGH DEATH, the grim reaper, garnered his richest harvest 
at Messina and Reggio, the devastation over a vast stretch of ter- 
ritory was even greater in proportion to the population and property 

Not a house in Castroreale, with more than 10,000 population, es- 
caped. Only a few of the inhabitants survived. 

Catania, with 146,000 population, was badly damaged by both the 
earthquake shocks and thetidal waves which swept the coast, but the loss 
of life was not so heavy as in some of its less fortunate neighbors. 

Palmi, Casano, Cosenza, Bagbara, Riposto, Seminaria, San Giovan- 
ni, Scylla, Lazzaro, Cannitella and all the other towns bordering on the 
straits were swept into ruin in that one instant, in many cases not a single 
person escaping. 

The gravest damage was done to public buildings and churches at 
Floridia, Noto, Chiaramonto, Vittoria Paterno, Terranova, Marianopoli 
and Naro. 

At Mineo there were several shocks. At Augusta, which once be- 
fore was destroyed by an earthquake, the tidal wave wrecked the Gov- 
ernment salt works. The prisoners employed there mutinied, but were 

At Patti the shock was accompanied by a blinding flash of light, 
while serious havoc was wrought at Barcelona and many persons were 
killed at Montagano. 

At Caltanissetta, a Sicilian town of 70,000 people, many houses were 
demolished. Vast crowds gathered in the parks and tilled the churches, 
praying for deliverance. 

Similar scenes of panic were witnessed at Mineo, a town one hun- 
dred miles southwest of Catania. 


At Agosta, in the province of Syracuse, churches and houses were 
demolished, but few lives were lost. The prisoners in the jail escaped 
and dashed through the praying crowds on the streets for liberty. The 
troops were called out and quiet was restored. 

There were several shocks also at I,indua, Glossa, Santa Saverina and 
Noto, all in Sicily. 

The Santa Maria College, at AH, a little place between Messina and 
Catania, was overthrown, many of the girl students being buried in the 

Horrible tales came from Calabria of fights between starving families 
for crusts and of fearful struggles for life between men and dogs. The 
terrors of famine and thirst were heightened by fresh occasional shocks of 
earthquake. Few of the survivors dared to go beneath a roof. In the 
open the rain fell heavily, mercilessly and unceasingly. 


At the village of Bashone the inhabitants, isolated for days, ate dogs 
and cats and chewed leather. The only surviving doctor attended as best 
lie could to the injured, but surgical instruments being sadly lacking he 
used pruning knives for amputations. Chloroform was unknown, and 
even bandages were missing, in most cases sacking being used. 

So it went throughout all the provinces of Calabria, as well as over 
the greater part of Sicily. Hundreds of thousands perished in the ruins 
of their homes. Hundreds, imprisoned among the debris or pinned 
down by the fallen beams and masonry, were slowly starved to death 
while the frantic survivors alternately sought for food and tried to succor 
their less fortunate fellows. 

To-day, the land of mythology, the home of one of the world's oldest 
civilizations, lies desolate. Nine tenths of its population are dead. The 
survivors have fled, most of them never to return. 

New shocks at Pellaro a week later precipitated the entire popula- 
tion into the sea, including both the dead and living victims of the first 

At Sant' Eufemia it was stated officially that the deaths there totaled 


1500. The injured exceeded that number. The ruins were soon wrapped 
in flames. 

An entire regiment of infantry was drowned by the first tidal wave 
at Palmi. 

The devastation over the entire district was iuore or less complete. 
No part of the province of Reggio De Calabria escaped. 

In more than one town the shocks caused gas meters to explode, 
and disastrous fires resulted. The flames helped greatly to swell the 
death list. 

At Pizzo the dead numbered thousands. 

The section around Pizzo experienced another earth shock a few 
days later, throwing the people into a state of panic. The remains of the 
church in Pizzo collapsed. A score of people within the building had a 
miraculous escape. 

At Sant' Eufemia, a town of 6000 people, sixteen miles northeast of 
Reggio, the dead numbered 1500, the wounded exceeding that figure. 
The houses that were not destroyed soon were in flames. 

Bagnara, on the coast to the north of Reggio, was practically wiped 
out, fire finishing the work of destruction. One report said that "all the 
inhabitants of Bagnara are dead." The town counted about 10,000 


To the destruction must be added the following towns and villages ; 
Castellate, Polisten, Cinque Prondi, Mamertina, Simpoli, San Procopio, 
Pizziconi, Stefanconi, Catena and Rosalo. These places are no more. 

One survivor states that an express train on the road from Reggio 
to Naples was brought to a stop by the shock when about eighteen miles 
along the road in its journey. The passengers demanded that they be 
taken back to Reggio, where they found a scene of desolation. While 
searching for friends fresh shocks occurred and practically all the pas- 
sengers were killed. 

The tidal wave inundated a villa at San Giovanni, 2500 feet back 
from the shore line. 

In Calabria, the region around Monteleone was most affected. The 


village of Stefanaconi, the inhabitants of which numbered 2300, was 
tically destroyed. 

Monsignor Morabito, the Bishop of Mileto, who distinguished him- 
self in the earthquake of 1905, did valiant work again. He rushed into 
places where the ruin was greatest, and brought aid and encouragement 
to all. 

The experiences of a band of refugees from Messina and Reggio, 
who made their way on foot into Palmi, was distressing beyond words. 

They succeeded in getting away from the Sicilian coast in sailboats. 
After a frightful experience in crossing the strait they landed on the 
Calabrian coast. There they were met by haggard refugees from Reggio, 
and the various groups of unfortunates joined forces. 

Together they painfully climbed the hills. At a certain point they 
all turned to give a last look at the burning cities. They stood on the 
mountain side plunged in despair. 


A young priest who had escaped from Reggio advanced toward 
the group, some 2000 persons in all, and blessed them. Then, turning 
in the direction of Reggio, he solemnly called down the blessing of God 
upon the desolated city. 

"Peace the dying!" he cried. "Peace to the dead!" Men, women 
and children knelt on the ground and, raising their hands to heaven, 
prayed for the deliverance of the multitude. 

The band then took up its broken and toilsome march to Palmi, 
where the refugees arrived ten hours later in a torrent of rain. Two 
thousand had set out in the beginning, but only five hundred ragged and 
emaciated wanderers reached their destination. The others had sue- 
cumbed on the awful journey and fallen powerless by the wayside. 

More appalling than the destruction of the towns and villages them- 
selves was the terror of the survivors. The spectacle was horrible. The 
wounded, bleeding, ragged refugees were human skeletons, who stag- 
gered here and there, dragging their bruised feet with effort and staring 
vacantly in all directions. 


Those less afflicted told contradictory stories. Each remembered 
only the tragedy of which he personally was the victim. 

In the mountainous regions inland the population took refuge in 
grottos and caves, where peasants and priests, soldiers and persons of 
gentle birth lived in common. Their bed was the ground, and fires 
burned to keep off wild animals. In Albi alone 2000 people were home- 

The Marquis Vincenzo Genoese, of Palmi, says he was awakened by 
a tremendous roar. It seemed as though the house was whirling around, 
like the wings of a windmill. 

The wall of his dwelling cracked and through it came a cloud of suf- 
focating dust. Stunned, but uninjured, the Marquis tried to escape to 
the streets, but the stairs had collapsed. He descended from a third- 
story window by a rope. 

Walking, he says, was difficult, owing to the fact that the streets 
were filled with debris. He assisted in dragging from beneath the ruins 
eighty-six persons, all of them dead. The faces of every one of them 
showed the agony they had suffered. 

Many had their arms across their faces, as though to protect them- 
selves from the falling debris. 

It was necessary to release the prisoners at Palmi, and many of them 
succeeded in making their escape. 


The Marquis tried in every way to enter the town of Reggio, but in 

Even in Palermo, at the other end of Sicily, heavy shocks were felt 
for days later. After one of these there was a general rush to the squares 
And open places, accompanied by lamentations and shrieks of fear, al- 
though later in the day the population invaded the churches and carried 
out the images of the saints and sacred vessels, then marched in a pro- 
cessional through the streets, imploring a cessation of the earthquake's 

A relief train dispatched toward Messina in the hope of aiding the 
earthquake sufferers was forced to return, beinft 'able to go only withtr 


ten miles of the stricken city on account of demolished tracks. Itie fcr.- 
gineer said that all houses along the route showed effects of the earth- 

A torpedo boat on a similar mission was forced to return. 

While the destruction was clue primarly to the earthquake, the tidal 
wave caused enormous damage. 

In the narrow strait the water formed into a huge wave forty feet 

It then drew back from the coast as if gathering strength for an on- 
slaught that would obliterate the land. So violent was the motion of 
the atmosphere coincident with the tidal wave that several workmen en- 
gaged in digging a pit on the Calabrian side of the strait were carried 
bodily up into the air. 

Suddenly stopping in their backward sweep, the waters of the strait 
hurled themselves up on two coasts. Inexorably they advanced, and 
piers, houses and gardens were swallowed up in the flood. 


At some places on the coast of Sicily the waters swept over the earth 
for a distance of ten miles. The ground for a great distance trembled 
under the shock of the impact. A naval officer who witnessed this awe- 
inspiring spectacle described it in these words : 

"It seemed as if two mountains, one of water and the other of land, 
fell furiously, the one towards the other, and as if the land vomited human 
habitations into the sea." 

At Catania, scarcely had the first spasm of terror passed when the 
tidal wave spent in from the sea. Shouts of warning arose, and the peo- 
ple, who had just fled from their houses, ran shrieking away from the 
docks and water front into the towns where a minute before the danger 
had seemed greatest. 

Where the sailors could get ashore, vessels of all kinds were aban- 
doned. The waters came and left devastation in their wake. Many per- 
ished, but the water's rush carried everything before it. 

Scores of fishing boats were swamped, and steamships in the harbor 
were damaged. 


The sights witnessed in the stricken district will live long in the mem- 
ory of one man, at least, who traversed the region immediately after the 

After tramping thirty-one miles without food or drink, during which 
time he encountered throngs of the destitute and hungry, he arrived at 
Messina, footsore and tired. From there he went to Palmi and thence 
to Reggio. 

At Bagnara he saw what was left of the populace roasting sea birds 
for food. The Mayor's house, he says, was perched high on a rock over- 
hanging the sea. 

At Scylla he attempted to rest, but this was impossible, for every 
building was in ruins. 

Continuing, he says : 

"A few kilometers further on, Cannitello presented a still more ter- 
rifying sight. Almost at the same moment as it was overthrown by the 
earthquake, it was swept by the sea. It was no more. 

"The country was but a charnel house, whence a horrible stench 
arose. All the houses were heaped into one pile of ruins, under which 
the dead and wounded lay. The sea round about was covered with house- 
hold articles and children's playthings. 


"From the ruins muffled voices calling for help reached us time and 
time again. I asked a fisherman the number of the dead and saved. The 
survivors perhaps five, six or seven; the dead perhaps two thousands, 
three thousands who knows?' he answered. 

"The once prosperous San Giovanni was another awful sight. The 
tidal wave smashed the jetties and overturned the six moles and swept 
the entire passage. The railroad station, the wireless station, six ferry 
docks and the hospital are all destroyed. Four thousand inhabitants 
were buried beneath the ruins. 

"The witnesses of that terrible night relate that the sea rose up as 
though lifted by a subterranean explosion. 

Survivors here and there were huddled in wagons whicti were half 
burled in the sand by violence. They were wounded and naked. N*>t a 


soldier had arrived; not a morsel of bread remained. When we found 
them they were worn by a struggle over a few provisions they had discov- 
ered in a freight car, but these were gone. 

"Fifteen kilometers further we entered the tomb of Reggio. Those 
who saw Reggio a few weeks before would not be able to restrain their 
tears. I wept like a child as I saw outspread before me, where the town 
had stood, an ocean of ruins. Nothing was standing; all were dead; all 
had been killed. Palaces, churches, theatres and banks no longer exist. 

"The jetty with its two stations, had been carried away to sea. A 
car was standing close at hand. Against this a girl of twelve had been 
hurled. The girl's head was cut off and floated out to sea; the body hung 
on the jamb of the car. The waters had poured down the Via Marina, 
cutting off retreat and drowning those who had not already been killed. 
The two other main thoroughfares, the Corso Garabaldi and the Corso 
Ascheneuse were completely obstructed by enormous heaps of blazing 
ruins. I was stunned at the completeness of the disaster. 

"Never in imagination have I felt so strong an impression of death; 
not a soul living in this smoking charnel house; not a human voice. It 
was a terrifying silence. Ruins were piled upon ruins. Among the debris 
I saw furniture and women's clothing. A house cut in two revealed three 
stories, a red, very red, parlor bed, in which a man lay dead, crushed by 
a falling beam; a bridal chamber, from which the bride seeking to escape, 
also lay dead on the threshold; another, a parlor, in which there was noth- 
ing but a mirror and portraits of King Humbert and Count Cavour. 

"I could bear no more. My heart bursting with grief and horror, 
I asked the eternal question : The survivors perhaps five or six thou- 
sand; the dead, perhaps 25,000 or 30,000, who knows ?' 

"I obtained a rowboat and crossed under a beating rain with death 
in its soul, the sinister strait, still agitated by the horrible crime it had 



A LL Italy, paralyzed by the magnitude of the disaster that devastated 
Eastern Sicily and Calabria, was fired to an earnest determination 
to relieve suffering and succor the distressed by the noble courage of its 
King and Queen. 

King Victor Emmanuel and Queen Helena, as soon as they heard 
the first tidings of the calamity, rushed to Messina on board the battleship 
Vittoria-Emmanuele. They disembarked immediately and made their 
way into the ruined city. 

As soon as it was known that the King and Queen had come crowds 
of the terror-stricken survivors of the earthquake swarmed around the 
royal party, prostrating themselves in the mud and crying aloud for pity. 
This reception was too much for the Queen, who almost fainted. 

Many terrible stories were told to the King in connection with the 
work of rescue. His Majesty lost little time in listening to a recital o 
difficulties. He immediately joined a rescue party, and labored as un- 
remittingly as the others. He personally extricated several injured per- 
sons pinned under the ruins. 

The Queen quickly recovered her courage and followed the example 
of her husband. She devoted her attention principally to the little chil- 
dren. She rescued with her own hands a little boy three years old, bleed- 
ing from many cuts and wounds, and herself carried him to the deck, 
where she handed him over to members of the hospital corps. 

People wept from emotion when they saw the King and Queen. The 
women threw kisses to her Majesty. Both virtually were carried in the 
arms of their subjects. 

The presence of the King acted as a general inspiration. Even the 



wounded found fresh strength when they learned his Majesty had come 
among them. 

An aged man who had been abandoned under a beam that appar- 
ently had crushed out his life, revived for a moment at the shouts of 
greeting to the royal pair. He stretched out his hand and raised his 
head long enough to call out: 

"Now, I can die happy. Long life to the King." 

He fell back and expired. 


The King explored the ruins regardless of the danger to which he 
exposed himself. He was often moved to tears at the scenes he came 
upon at every turn. 

The Queen spent most of the day in the wards of improvised hos- 
pitals, visiting the wounded, many of whom have lost all that was dear 
to them. Her Majesty often broke into sobs as she listened to their 
dreadful tales of suffering. 

King Victor left Messina that night with Queen Helena and arrived 
early the next morning at Reggio, and after visiting the town in com- 
pany with the Queen, re-embarked on a warship and visited all the 
wrecked villages along the Sicilian coast, everywhere meeting the same 
scenes of desolation. The next day he visited the villages and hamlets in 
Calabria that had been overwhelmed. 

The visits of the King and Queen aroused widespread enthusiasm. 

In spite of the universal mourning and distress the sovereigns were 
saluted when they disembarked by the firing of guns from the Italian and 
foreign warships at Messina. As the King and his party set foot on shore 
they were greeted with scenes of indescribable woe. His Majesty spoke 
highly in praise of the Italian soldiers and the sailors from the foreign 
warships for their heroic work of rescue. 

He visited every quarter of Messina and Reggio, giving wcr^ ^ 
encouragement, praise and consolation. 

The Queen talked with the wounded on board the ships, comforted 
the women, spoke kindly to the children, and promised assistance. Every- 


where the visit of the sovereigns imparted fresh impetus to the work of 

Nor did he shirk or shun personal danger of the gravest kind. 

While standing in the streets of Messina he was nearly buried under 
the falling walls of a wrecked building. 

Amid the gloomy and depressing horror which like a leaden weight 
oppressed the land that by all countries has been called the garden spot 
of Europe, two noble female figures stood out as guardian angels watch- 
ing over the afflicted population. They were Queen Helena and another 
Helena, the Duchess of Aosta, 

The Queen gave the sufferers her tears, and with her own hands, 
bound up their wounds, using her handkerchiefs when other bandages 
were lacking. She gave also of her worldly possessions, including the 
rings from her fingers. 


Public opinion was seriously concerned with regard to the safety of 
the King and Queen and the danger from tottering walls. The King fre- 
quently tried to persuade the Queen to rest or return to Rome, but she 
always refused, declaring that it would break her heart to abandon her 
husband in his labors for the country in its anguish. 

The King was indefatigable. 

He showed wonderful activity and endurance, leaving no point in 
Messina unvisited. He supervised the entire work in the fallen city, and 
the presence of his Majesty infused new courage and energy into the 
rescuers and the survivors, hungry and wounded as they were. Often he 
was surrounded by a crowd of victims who, as though the sight of the 
King had restored their strength, cheered enthusiastically and shouted : 
"We have a King; we have a protector." 

The Duchess of Aosta, who still proudly signs herself a Princess of 
France, was performing miracles of love, pity and endurance at Naples, 
where the wounded were arriving in great numbers. This noble woman 
gave not only pecuniary help, but nursed the injured with demonstrations 
of affection. Children, robbed by a cruel fate of their parents and rela- 
tives, found in this Princess a new and tender mother. 


King Victor Emmanuel later returned to Reggio. He traversed 
the ruins from one end to the other, comforting the sufferers and cheer- 
ing the rescuers. At one point His Majesty came upon a man buried 
up to his waist in debris. The King encouraged the unfortunate while 
the soldiers were digging him out. In the midst of the efforts at rescue 
the man cried : 

"Sire, I can wait for deliverance, but for God's sake give me food 
and drink." 


Meeting a group of photographers engaged in taking pictures of 
the sad scenes, the King chided them for their occupation. 

"You had much better turn your efforts to succoring the afflicted," 
said he. 

Both Helena the Queen, and Helena the Duchess of Aosta, were 
born on foreign soil, but to-day the people of Italy worship them for their 
love and devotion, and the unselfish service to the stricken sufferers 
given by these two women of high lineage has made them doubly dear 
to all Italians. This devotion was particularly strengthened by the 
Duchess conveying in her motor car many unfortunate little children 
from the bare hospitals to her royal palace at Capodimonte. 

The Duke of Aosta also visited Palmi and all the surrounding vil- 
lages. This section, after Messina and Reggio, suffered more heavily 
than any other. The Duke said to one of the aides with him: 

"The catastrophe indeed is.a scourge from God. The time has come 
when it is no longer possible to think about those buried in the ruins. All 
hopes of saving any of these unfortunates, after the days that have elapsed 
since the disaster, must of necessity be abandoned. All our efforts must 
be devoted to caring for the wounded survivors." 

Queen Helena was injured at Messina. Her injuries were slight, 
but the news caused a shock to all Italians, for Her Majesty endeared 
herself wonderfully to her people by her heroic and self-sacrificing work 
among the sufferers. 

A shock at Messina while she was there created a panic among the 
patients in one of the improvised hospitals. The Queen, who was close 
by, hurried to the scene and tried to allay the fears of the patients, who 


were crowding through the doors to reach the open. She was caught 
in the crush and painfully but not seriously hurt. 

It is said that nobody in Italy envied King Victor Emmanuel his er- 
rand of mercy more than did the Pope, who felt that his place was with 
the stricken earthquake sufferers. 

Having been prevented from going there, His Holiness tried to keep 
in touch with the prevailing conditions as much as possible and offered 
the Bishops of the affected zone all that he could give. His gifts in 
money aggregated $400,000. 

The Pontiff never regretted so much the loss of the liberty he en- 
joyed as patriarch of Venice. 


Following the desire expressed by Queen Helena, the anniversary 
of her birth, which was observed a few days after the great catastrophe, 
was not attended by any of the usual festivities. 

Her Majesty is reported to have said that she wished to celebrate 
the day by working doubly hard for the Calabrian and Sicilian earth- 
quake survivors, whose sufferings she could not drive from her mind. 

Her two daughters, Princess Yolando and Princess Mafalda, re- 
spectively seven and six years old, instead of buying birthday presents for 
their mother, turned over the contents of their money boxes to the re- 
lief fund. 

The little Crown Prince, who is four years old, not wishing to be 
outdone by his sisters, parted with what has been his greatest delight, a 
completed company of tin soldiers, of which he is the commander He 
took his toys to his mother, saying: "This is all I have; please send them 
to the poor children." 

Premier Giolitti voiced the gratitude of the people toward the first 
woman in Italy, Queen Helena. The reference to Her Majesty was 
greeted with prolonged applause in the Italian Parliament, the members 
of the Chamber and Ministers rising to their feet. 

"I cannot possibly think of any kind of rejoicing," said the Queen, 
when she gave orders to have her birthday celebration omitted, "while 
the nation is suffering such terrible mourning." 


The Queen added that she intended to spend her birthday in nurs- 
ing the wounded and in attending to relief work among the women and 

Queen Helena turned a portion of the Quirinal Palace into a work- 
shop, where a number of Italian women of high rank, dressmakers and 
working girls, sat all day long in the greatest friendliness, busily cutting 
out and sewing garments for the refugees. 

The women were under the superintendence of the Queen herself, 
who, with her own hands, often guided fingers unaccustomed to work of 
this kind. Each afternoon there was a rest period of one hour, when all 
the women took tea together. As soon as the time was up the Queen 
inexorably commanded that the work be resumed. 

The royal children, the Princesses Yolando and Mafalda, respectively 
seven and six years old, were allowed to be present and were established 
in a corner, delighted and busy cutting out and making dolls' clothes 
for the poor little Calabrian children. 

They were promised that if they do this well they shall soon be pro- 
moted to making baby clothes. When this time came their cup of pride 
was full. 

How the Queen came to establish this beehive was quaint. She 
called on a little dressmaker here whom her maid patronizes, to ordei 
some children's clothes, and sew for her personally. 


In the. midst of the conversation, the dressmaker remarked how diffi- 
cult it would be to carry out so large an order, as she had joined a society 
of sewing girls, established to devote a certain number of hours every 
day to making clothes for the refuges out of their own pockets. 

The Queen was so impressed that she invited them to the Quirinal, 
promising them the material if they would have the idea enlarged into 
the present organization. The Queen, in her element, was heard to ob- 
serve : 

"If the cause was not so awful, these would be very happy days for 


No wonder she was called in Messina "Our Lady of Mercy." Dur- 


ing" the sewing in the royal workroom many stones were toJd about the 
earthquake, the little Princesses being particularly interested in the story 
of an old woman looking about 100 years old, who refused to leave the 
ruins without her little treasure. 

She was so obstinate that she had to be left to her fate. Another 
case is that of some sailors who heard queer noises under the ruins, evi- 
dently something human, so they dug on to find a woman and a child 
in a little shed which had resisted the shock and fall of debris, together 
with a goat, which yielded enough milk to keep them both alive. At 
last all got so weak they could not lift their heads, but all were alive 
when rescued, having given warmth one to the other. 

Several children who were taken from the ruins in the first day when 
hunger was not so pressing cried and kicked until favorite dolls or toys 
were found, and one youngster was found still clasping a Teddy bear in 
his arms. 

























ui < 

























































A FTER comparative quiet had been restored and the Italian people 
had recovered from the first shock of the horror, they faced most 
terrible problems of the future yes, and of the immediate present. 

In the first place, though many thousands perished, there were other 
thousands, many of them maimed and incapacitated for work, who must 
be transported, temporarily at least, to some habitable regions, clothed 
and fed. 

Next, to avoid a pestilence, there were yet more thousands of bodies 
to be dug from at least the upper part of the debris and buried, or, in any 
event, destroyed by quicklime. 

This latter expedient, which did much to avert an epidemic, was 
proposed by the King himself, while face to face with the horror of the 
situation. He fully realized the menace of any other course and himself 
issued the orders for its use. 

Of the bodies buried, hundreds were thrown into trenches and cov- 
ered with the destroying agent. 

A most impressive funeral ceremony was witnessed near Messina, 
about a week after the disaster, when Archbishop Barrigo made his way 
through the town, through the ruins of the city, to the cemetery at Mare 
Grosso, and blessed a grave 100 feet wide and 30 feet deep, containing* 
1300 bodies. The dead were piled one on top of the other, and covered 
with quicklime. 

The prelate was followed to the cemetery by a large gathering of 
survivors whose lamentations mingled with the Latin words of the ser- 
vice and benediction. 

Subsequently, the Archbishop walked through the ruins and blessed 
the military hospital, the military college, the barracks and the Arch- 
bishop's house, considering these wrecked edifices as so many ceme- 
7 ITA 97 


teries. Under them were the corpses of soldiers, students, policemen 
and monks. 

With the exception of Sant Andrea Avellino, all the churches in 
Messina were destroyed. 


The gravest fears were felt lest a pestilence should break out, and 
accordingly the government surrounded Reggio and Messina, as well as 
several of the smaller towns, and would let none pass except those who 
held passes. 

This was rendered doubly necessary since shocks continued for days 
afterward. As many as ten an hour were recorded, causing many of the 
weakened walls to fall. 

The Italian fears of an epidemic were partially born out by a num- 
ber of cases of typhoid fever which broke out among the workers in the 
ruins, but the authorities were greatly comforted, during the height of 
this crisis, by the opinion of one of the foremost authorities of the world, 
Surgeon General Wyman, of the United States Public Health and Marine 
Hospital Service. 

"Judging from modern instances, it does not seem probable that any 
great epidemic will follow the earthquakes in Italy," he declared. "Of 
course," continued the Surgeon General, "if a disease is already existent 
in a place, a convulsion of nature, such as an earthquake, with destruction 
of buildings, the breaking of sewers, interference with pure water supply 
and other consequent unsanitary condition, would tend to cause an in- 
crease of cases, but there is a popular misapprehension as to the real 

"If, for example, the plague existed in Messina at the time of the 
earthquake, doubtless conditions would arise that would favor its spread. 
But plague was not there. The same might be said with regard to cholera 
or even smallpox. 

"The mere decomposition of bodies dead from accident does not of 
itself give rise to disease. In 1893 a violent storm caused the inundation 
of many of the islands contiguous to the coast of South Carolina and 
great apprehension was felt that on account of the large number of dead 


animals unburied, the occlusion of drains and the filling of the wells with 
salt water, epidemic diseases would break out. 

"The territory involved covered 150 square miles, but sanitary work 
was conducted by the Marine Hospital Service, and although carei'ul 
records of disease were kept, it was demonstrated that no disease of an 
epidemic nature developed. 


"There is no record of epidemic diseases following 1 the great fires at 
Boston, Chicago and some of the other large cities of the United States. 

"It is observed that there was some appearance of typhoid at Mes- 
sina following the earthquake, and this disease might naturally be ex- 
pected to spread to some extent, due to the overturning of all sanitary 
conditions, and if the people are placed in camps there may develop some 


typhoid there, but the sanitary department of the Italian Government 
is an excellent one and entirely capable of dealing with this condition, and 
while there may be possibly some increase of typhoid, it is not to be 
expected that there will be a great epidemic of it. 

"It will be recalled that at the time of the Johnstown disaster in 
1889 great apprehension was felt as to the spread of epidemic diseases, 
but there was no such spread. The same was true with regard to St. 
Pierre, Martinique, destroyed by the eruption of Mont Pelee. Great ap- 
prehension was expressed and preparations made to combat epidemic 
disease, but there was no outbreak. 

"The same may be said as to the Galveston flood in 1900. 

"In San Francisco at the time of the earthquake in 1906 there was 
no immediate outbreak of any infectious disease, although the sanitary 
conditions for a while were bad and some typhoid developed in the camps, 
but conditions were rectified as soon as possible, and for a time there 
seemed to be no epidemic results from the earthquake and fire. 


"Later it was found that there had been in San Franisco some rats 
infected with plague, and conditions favored the multiplication and spread 
of plague among them until finally it affected human beings. No great 
epidemic, however, followed, there having been only, in the course of 
two years, 160 cases, with 78 deaths, and no cases among human beingj, 
since February, 1908 a year ago. 

"Following these great convulsions of nature there might be, in ad- 
dition to increased sickness and death caused by exposure and hardships, 
epidemic diseases of various sorts due to the unsanitary conditions pre- 
vailing were it not for the fact that invariably the first work undertaken 
is the disposal of the dead bodies and the rectifying of the bad sanitary 
conditions and in modern times the importance of proper sanitary con- 
ditions is so well understood that any civilized community begins at once 
attending to this very important matter. 

"So that, as said before, there seems to be no great ground for fear 
of a large epidemic following the earthquake at Messina." 

Another proposal, which yet may be carried out, wi to bombard 


the city by battleships as soon as all the more readily recovered valuables 
were gathered up and thus destroy any chance of further deaths from 
falling masonry. 

Only one house in all Messina is habitable. It was constructed by 
a reputed eccentric, who for years past has been strengthening his resi- 
dence with iron bars and other ingenious devices, in order to make it 
strong enough to resist an earthquake. The loss from a bombardment, 
therefore, would be small indeed. 

The result of such a plan would doubtless be to remove the city 
bodily to some more favored site, probably Syracuse, since Catania is 
even more dangerously near Etna than was Messina. 

Another project was to transfer Messina provisionally to Milazzo, a 
small town near the ruins of Messina on the north coast of the island. 

It is estimated that about $15,000,000 would suffice to rebuild 
Messina for 50,000 inhabitants, making it a commercial and maritime 

It would take about $8,000,000 to rebuild Reggio for 25,000 people. 
In any event many years must elapse before the thoroughly terrorized 
populations can be induced to return to live in the stricken territory. 

Should the Italian warships engage in battering down the walls still 
standing in Messina, the project of rebuilding the commercial port at 
Syracuse cannot contemplate making use of the stones and marble still 
titilizable in the ruined city. 


According to the accounts, while the buildings crumbled under the 
zig-zag shaking of the earth, the stones were not fractured as at San 
Francisco. Possibly this was due to the extraordinary bath supplied by 
the sea, which, rising as high as the highest building, submerged the 
burning city in a quenching flood. 

Nor will the new Syracuse, as the inheriter of the destroyed Mes- 
sina, benefit from an accession of population, as probably less than ten 
thousand of the more than one hundred thousand credited to the city 
were saved. Even these have scattered northward, fearing to remain on 
land devoured every little while by earth convulsions. But even the Ca- 


tanians, long the rivals of Messina, are uncertain about remaining withir 
the jaws of the monster, for Etna is very much nearer Catania than Mes- 
sina. Nor is the harbor at all to be compared with Syracuse, which, with- 
out much labor, could accommodate the navies of the world. 

Catania, which is just south of where Messina stood, is a thriving 
city and continuously growing, but the city has suffered quite as often, 
though not so severely, as Messina from the outbreaks of Mount Etna. 
Some of the most startling scenes of earthquake encroachment are iden- 
tified with Catania, while the series of plateaus extending from the upper 
ridges of Etna, almost to the outskirts of Catania, are a dismal reminder 
of the irresistible might of the crater when it once begins to spill de- 
struction from its insatiate brim. 

The channels from the crater toward Catania mark very distinctly 
the different outflows of mountain, for each side of the lava streams are 
sometimes a mile wide; the dank green of the vegetation brings into 
more desolating relief the furious wrath of the molten stream which 
burns everything that it encounters. At one point a few miles from 
Catania, as if by miracle, the stream was stopped at its last eruption, leav- 
ing a wall like a battlement. The pasantry for miles about attribute the 
sudden stoppage at this point to the interposition of the patron Saint 
Agatha, a relic of whom is reverently preserved in the Catanian Ca- 


As it requires about a hundred years to transform the lava into fer- 
tilizing soil, the vast sweeps of brownish terraces make a landscape alter- 
nating in parasiac verdure and desolating emptiness. The very loveli- 
ness of the country intensifies the abomination of the lava desolation, for 
exotic plants as sensuously gorgeous as are to be seen in the Nile lands 
are common culture all over the southern segment of the Sicilian Island. 

In natural scenery the picture far surpasses anything to be seen in 
the wonderland of Italy itself, yet beyond the industrious students of 
people and places, Sicily is inexplicably unknown to the tourist world, 
always alert for "sensation." 

A company of capitalists who have returned from New York to their 


native land feel so certain of the greatness that Syracuse inherits from 
Messina are already in negotiation for the nearest ground to the foun- 
tain of Arethusa on which to erect "an American hotel," to be in time 
for the influx that is sure to follow the "boom." 

Sentiment and money making couldn't devise a better site. For the 
fountain to this day invites the delight of the visitor. It has been walled 
in by marble battlements to guard it against pollution and holds about 
the same place in popular reverence that the fountain of Treves enjoys 
in Rome. 

The stream which issues from the solid rock forms a considerable 
body of water and glides away as clear as an Alpine "brunnen" to mingle 
with the harbor waves a mile or more away. 

The Arethusa waters were guarded in the same way in Cicero's day, 
for he takes pains to mention that "In the island of Ortygia there is a 
fountain of sweet water, the name of which is Arethusa of incredible flow, 
very full of fish" and that it would be overwhelmed by the sea were its 
waters not protected by a rampart and wall of stone. 


Before the beginnings of man, as known to modern times, Arethusa 
is said to have made use of the delectable pool to bathe with her nymphs. 
This memory seems to have been lost to the inhabitants during many a 
century, for it was only a few decades ago that the pool was rescued from 
the washerwomen of the outskirts, who dipped the soiled clothes of the 
numerous suburban families in the precious waters. 

Syracuse possesses many a memorial of majestic significance with 
which to divert the curious in its coming day of greatness. 

In the centre of the Ortygia peninsula, which forms the modern city, 
greatly resembling Manhattan island in its conformation, stands a duomo, 
or cathedral, linking a very distant past with the banalities of to-day. 

The cathedral "Santa Maria Del Piliero" (Saint Mary of the Column, 
or Pillar), was built by the Greeks six hundred years before Christ to do 
honor to the goddess Minerva. Shortly after the apparition of Saint Paul 
the Christians managed to obtain possession of the edifice and trans- 
formed it into a place of worship of the new God. 


Disentangling the various relics of changing creeds will furnish the 
studious tourist with enlivening occupation, for the Christian edifice 
was transformed into a Moslem mosque, then into a Greek church, and 
to-day a Roman temple of worship. 

Though remodeled by Christian and pagan, the same columns and 
material compose the edifice, so that with history in hand the visitor may 
see in his mind's eye the procession of diverse worshippers that cele- 
brated devotions to the unknown god. There Archimedes, in the inter- 
vals of his scientific inventions, repaired to consult the oracles; there 
Marcellus, the Roman conqueror, forbade his soldiers to enter, but he 
couldn't stop the vandal pro-consul, Verres, from looting the temple of 
its incomparable statuary which he employed the legions in carting away 
by night. 

To the art folk the most interesting relic of the past is a more than 
lifesize statue of Venus Anadyomene, discovered in 1804 by the Marquis 
Landolina in his gardens. Connossieurs hold this ample figure in finer 
work of art than the Venus de Milo in the Louvre, or the Venus de 
Medici in the Pitti Palace. This Venus Landolina is said by the learned to 
be a elebrated work modelled in Athens for the unspeakable Roman 
travesty of an Emperor, Heliogabalus, who in a moment of generosity 
presented it to the city of Syracuse. Though the head and right arm 
are lacking, the figure is held by art folk to far transcend in benignant 
grace any other Venus in existence. 


Should Syracuse inherit Messina's fortunes, the readers of Plutarch 
will be apt to revive their interest in one of his heroes at least. Timolean, 
who among all its vicissitudes, the city commemorated as its "grand old 
man." Timoleon, according to the devout belief of his contemporaries, 
"was favored by the gods wherever he went/' 

It was Timoleon (another Cincinnatus in conduct) who quit seques- 
tration to rescue his compatriots from a swarm of tyrants and ended by 
routing the theretofore invincible legions of Carthage. 

Even walking through the streets of the city, the tourist would feel 


as if he were a contemporary with the worthies pictured in Plutarch's 
pages or in the stunning war and sea pictures of Thucydides. 

A narrow and winding way named in honor of the mother of Venus, 
Via Dione. Another the street of the Duomo leads into the "Piazza 
Archimedes." La Via Maniace recalls the great captain who routed the 
Carthaginian armies. The "Passage Aretusa" shows that the city coun- 
cils had sentiment in their political ministry of the people's affairs. Just 
outside the remote walls are the remains of two Doric columns which 
in Syracuse's great day marked the city's veneration for Timoleon's Arch- 

The bones of the worthies are not identified with the columns in- 
deed, even in Cicero's time there was dubiety as to the exact whereabouts 
of the tombs of Timoleon and Archimedes, though their names were al- 
ways on the tongue of the public orators. 


Cicero writes that he found the monument of the illustrious men 
''covered with brushwood and bramble" so that the monument was un- 
known to the Syracusans who even denied its existence. 

The wretched Syracusans, however, may be excused for not know- 
ing exactly where their great dead were buried, since when the Sara- 
cens captured the city in the year 878 before Christ, it was devastated 
about as thoroughly as Mount Etna did its work on Messina the other 

Miles of mounds, broken columns and mouldering fragments of what 
were once colossal edifices, still make clear that in even those early days 
enterprising citizens had the modern fever of "greater cities.'" 

When Ortygia, the peninsula, became crowded, the city extended 
across the narrow channel and took in finally Acradina, Tyche, Neapolis 
and Epipolae. Ortygia was known as the inner city, the other four as 
the outer. 

These were enclosed by a wall one hundred and eighty stadia, or about 
twenty-five miles, in circumference. 

That wouldn't b much, compared, say, with Philadelphia, but it onwt 


be borne in mind that private dwellings took up no such space in the 
early days of the world as they do to-day. 

Even the walls strong enough to resist the energy of the most valiant 
warriors of the world, have crumbled away. 

When the greater Syracuse was in its prime, the harbor was walled 
by the city, for nearly four miles, and in that sheet of water some of the 
most terrific sea fights of antiquity were witnessed by the millions of 
sitizenry, for in those days there was no danger of flying missiles to force 
the spectators to remain at a safe distance. 

Scores of military students during the last hundred years have retold 
the incidents of the fight at Actium, one, a French admiral, actually nam- 
ing many of the triremes, yet the combat between the forces of united, 
or half united Greece, and Syracuse was, according to the minute ac- 
count of Thucydides, a far more determined struggle than Antony put up 
in defence of his adored Cleopatra. 

As in most of the decisive victories recorded by Plutarch, and the 
Greek writers, there was treachery among the vanquished, which strips 
the victors of the glory their valor excited from end to end of the then 
known world. 

But battling on vessels moved by three banks of oars, the fighting 
was far more desperate and even deadly than with powder and ball, for 
the fighting men had to come hand-to-hand and settle the matter by in- 
dividual constancy. 

In this fight, fifty thousand of the Athenian Greeks were counted 
gladiators and when they struck out against the Syracusans, it was like 
the meeting of so many Sullivans seeking the "solar plexus." 



A LL the world hastened to send to Italy not only its sincerest mes- 
sages of sympathy, but more substantial help in the way of money 
and supplies. 

Governments and individuals vied in their grand charity. 
In this the United States was far in the lead. 

No sooner had the news of the catastrophe reached this country 
than the President sent this cablegram to the King : 
"His Majesty, Vittorio-Emmanuele, Rome. 

"With all my countrymen I am appalled by the dreadful calamity 
which has befallen your country. I offer my sincerest sympathy. Ameri- 
can National Red Cross has issued appeal for contributions for the suf- 
ferers and notified me that they will immediately communicate with the 
Italian Red Cross. 


The American National Red Cross sent a telegram over the signa- 
ture of its president, William H. Taft, to the Italian Red Cross at Rome 
in the following language : 

"The American Red Cross desires to tender to the Italian Red Cross 
its profound sympathy because of the terrible earthquake in Italy and 
Calabria. An appeal has been issued to the American Red Cross for con- 
tributions for the benefit of the sufferers." 

But America did not stop there. This Presidential message to Con- 
gress followed: 

"The appalling calamity which has befaHen the people of Italy is fol- 
lowed by distress and suffering throughout a wide region among many 
thousands who have escaped with life, but whose shelter and food and 
means of living are destroyed. The ordinary machinery for supplying* the 



wants of civilized communities is paralyzed, and an exceptional emer- 
gency exists which demands that the obligations of humanity shall regard 
no limit of national lines. 

"The immense debt of civilization to Italy, the warm and steadfast 
friendship between that country and our own, the affection for their na- 
tive land felt by great numbers of good American citizens who are immi- 
grants from Italy, the abundance with which God has blessed us in our 
safety all these should prompt us to immediate and effective reliet. 

"Private generosity is responding nobly to the demand by contribu- 
tions through the safe and efficient channel of the American Red Cross 

"Confident of your approval, I have ordered the Government supply 
ships Celtic and Culgoa to the scene of diseaster, where, upon receiving 
the authority which I now ask of you, they will be able to dispense food, 
clothing and other supplies with which they are laden to the value of 
about $300,000 The Celtic has already sailed and the Culgoa is at Port 

"Eight vessels of the returning battleship fleet are already under 
orders for Italian waters, and that Government has been asked if their 
services can be made useful. 


"I recommend that the Congress approve the application of supplies 
above indicated and further appropriate the sum of $500,000 to be ap- 
plied to the work of relief at the discretion of the Executive and with the 
consent of the Italian Government. 

"I suggest that the law follow the form of that passed after the 
Mont Pelee disaster in 1902." 

Immediately Senator Hale asked that the matter be referred to the 
Committee on Appropriations. The committee met and within half an 
hour reported a resolution for $500,000 in money and authorizing the 
President to dispatch $300,000 worth of provisions on the navy supply 
ships Celtic and Culgoa. 

Surprise was manifested when the Texas Senator, Bailey's, "no" 


broke the stillness of the chamber. Mr. Hale quickly had precedents 
for the action incorporated in the record. 

"I am one of those Senators," said Mr. Bailey, "who do not believe 
that the Federal Government has power to spend the people's money in 
this way. If it could be shown by authority that it has the power, I 
should be among the first to advocate it. It is evident the Senator from 
Maine wishes to justify the action taken to-day by inserting in the Rec- 
ord the matter to which he referred, but I believe there is no argument 
so fallacious as the one from precedent when that argument is advanced 
under the stress of a terrible calamity such as this.'* 

Meantime the House had passed a resolution appropriating $800,- 
ooo, but saying nothing about the use of the Culgoa and Celtic. As 
soon as it was read Senator Hale objected to it as not specific. 

Senator Lodge suggested a conference with the House, but the 
House had adjourned. 

"Well," said Hale, "there is nothing for us to do but accept the sub- 

And it was passed. 

President Fallieres, of France, sent a telegram of condolence on the 
catastrophe to King Victor Emmanuel. Premier Clemenceau sent a 
similar message to the Italian Premier, while M. Pichon, the French For- 
eign Minister, communicated his sympathy to the Italian Minister of 
Foreign Affairs, Signor Tittoni. 


The United States supply ship Celtic, which was to have met the re- 
turning battleship fleet with holiday cheer, sailed out of New York Har- 
bor a few days later on an entirely different mission, but without chang- 
ing a single item of her cargo. She sailed direct to Messina, to give a 
million and a half of navy rations to the earthquake sufferers. 

The idea of changing the Celtic into a relief ship came to her com- 
mander, Harry McL. P. Hust. It met with the immediate approval of 
Rear Admiral Casper F. Goodrich, commandment of the New York 
Navy Yard, who promptly communicated with the department at Wash- 


Red tape was cut out in a jiffy on the ground of humanity, neces- 
sary preparations were hurried at the yard, and the Celtic, with Christ- 
mas trees still lashed to the mast-heads it had been designed to make 
the Celtic the Christmas ship for the fleet sailed Her supplies were 
not eaten by American sailors, but by suffering survivors of the Cala- 
brian and Sicilian disaster. 

In the face of the overwhelming need of the Italians, the department 
considered its own men second. 

Just as our ships were the first to reach Kingston after the West 
Indian earthquake disaster, so the American naval flag on the Celtic was 
the first to bring actual food supplies to Messina from any country, even 
though we were 3,600 miles away. 


Stored in the vast holds of the Celtic when she steamed out was the 
following : 

Fresh beef, 275,000 pounds; mutton, 13,000 pounds; pork, 82.000 
pounds; veal, 54,000 pounds; sausage, fresh, 34,000 pounds; pork sau- 
sage, 30,000 pounds; bologna sausage, 5,000 pounds; turkey, 20,000 
pounds; lunch meat, 9,500 pounds; chipped beef, 6,000 pounds; fresh 
eggs, 150,000 dozens, an equivalent of 8,000 dozen more dehydrated; 
75,000 pounds fresh potatoes, an equivalent of 200,000 pounds of dehy- 
drated potatoes; fresh onions, 40,000 pounds; apples, 9,600 pounds; 
corned beef, tinned, 40,000 pounds; bacon, tinned, 35,000 pounds; 
smoked hams, 59,000 pounds; tinned ham, 10,000 pounds; lard, 25,000 
pounds; salt pork, 20,000 pounds; salmon, tinned, 25,000 pounds; barley. 
1,000 pounds; beans (pea), 7,000 gallons; beans (lima), 6,000 gallons; 
cornmeal, 5,000 pounds; corn starch, 2,000 pounds; flour, 500,000 
pounds; hominy, 2,000 pounds; oatmeal, 2,000 pounds; rolled oats, 4,000 
pounds; rice, 5,000 pounds; tapioca, 2,500 pounds; tinned peas, 25,000 
pounds; tinned beans, 10,000 pounds; tinned lima beans, 5,000 pounds; 
tinned corn, 25,000 pounds; tomatoes, 68,000 pounds; dried apples, 4,500 
pounds; dried peaches, 2,000 pounds; prunes, 8,000 pounds; raisins, 2,000 
pounds; nuts, 2,500 pounds; apricots, tinned, 7,000 pounds; peaches, 
tinned, 50,000 pounds; pears, tinned, 35,000 pounds; butter, 71,000 


pounds; baking powder, 1,500 pounds; coffee, 50,000 pounds; catsup, 600 
gallons; cheese, 7,000 pounds; milk, evaporated, 10,000 pounds; milk, 
condensed, 40,000 pounds; macaroni, 4,000 pounds; saur kraut, 6,000 
pounds; sugar, 100,000 pounds; salt, 25,000 pounds; syrup, 2,000 gal- 
lons; large quantities of dehydrated vegetables; supplies of soap, tobacco 
and naval stores, but not very large amounts of medical supplies. 

But other nations were not to be left behind in the work of mercy. 
From every quarter of the globe came sympathy and stores. 


The British battleship Exmouth and the cruisers Euryalus and 
Minerva, commanded by Admiral Sir Asheton Curzon-HowQ, hastily left 
Malta for Messina to render every assistance possible to the survivors 
of the disaster. The British cruiser Sutlej, which was on her way from 
Messina to that port, was intercepted by wireless telegraphy and sent 
back to Messina. 

The Minister of Marine promptly ordered the French battleships 
Justice and Verite and three torpedo boat destroyers to proceed to Mes- 
sina to succor the victims, and other nations rushed all available ships to 
the scene of the disaster. 

Most helpful of all, the great American battleship fleet, with its 15,- 
ooo officers and men, on its cruise round the world, was ordered to 
steam with all possible haste to the scene of the disaster. 

With the arrival of the American men-of-war Chicago and Yankton, 
the advance guard of that portion of the fleet detached for the purpose, 
the United States and British Consulates opened joint headquarters on 
the tennis grounds in the north end of Messina. Hospital tents and sup- 
plies of all kinds were taken ashore by bluejackets f :om the newly ar- 
rived ships. The gunboat Scorpion, which had been the first to arrive, 
was relieved and sailed for Constantinople. 

Sailors from the Chicago and Yankton, assisted by hired laborers, 
attacked afresh the ruins of the American Consulate. They uncovered 
and removed the bodies of a man and woman who had been buried and 
crushed under piles of fallen material. The man was identified as a Si- 
cilian named Filippe, who occupied a room on the third floor of the Con- 


sulate. The woman's body could not be identified, but undoubtedly was 
one of several female servants sleeping on the same floor. 

Some clothing, a hat and a coat identified as belonging to Mrs. 
Cheney were found in the ruins early in the search, but the bodies of the 
Consul and his wife were not discovered till long afterward. The ruins 
of the Consulate were piled high, and it proved most difficult work dig- 
ging into the mass of stone and beams. 

In various parts of the city a few bodies were removed from near the 
surface of the ruins by the American sailors, but there was no system of 
identification or enumeration. Numerous instances of extraordinary vi- 
tality are related among the victims who, even two weeks after the dis- 
aster were dug out of ruins alive. Three women and one man were taken 
out very much emaciated and suffering many bruises, yet alive after hav- 
ing been buried for twelve days. 

Another extraordinary case was that of a woman and her two in- 
fants rescued. They had been buried under a collapsed house, but pro- 
tcted from being crushed to death by the shelter of some protecting 
beams. The woman had kept the children alive for eleven days by nurs- 
ing them, but one of the infants died as soon as taken out. 

Those surviving under ruins but pinned down into almost immovable 
positions by huge beams and boulders, often showed amazing vitality. 
One man dug out after long imprisonment without food or drink, under 
piles of debris, was put on a stretcher and carried to an American ship. 
When the bearers reached the dock the man rose from the stretcher and 
walked to a cabin on board the vessel. 


These were the exceptional cases, for the death rate among the in- 
jured was terribly high. Many died daily on the ships and in the ambu- 
lance trains. The authorities moved the injured to Naples, Palermo an 
even Genoa, where rest camps were established. 

Wooden shacks were erected in the parks and piazas to accommo- 
date 5,000 homeless Messinians and to shelter the soldiers on duty. The 
north end of town was not damaged so much as othr sections, and many 
of the low building's there are intact. 


The electric light plant was patched up and was put in operation 
about ten days after the first earthquake, affording facilities for continu- 
ing work on the ruins without interruption. But the authorities were 
all at sea, without system or efficient direction. Thousands of soldiers 
were engaged only in patrolling dangerous streets and guarding prop- 
erty instead of helping in the work of rescue. 


Hundreds of donkey carts were employed in removing merchandise 
from half-ruined stores and warehouses in the Via Garibaldi Marina. Sur- 
vivors owning property or awaiting the removal of bodies of relatives 
from ruins refused to leave Messina, but hung around helpless and dis- 
tracted from day to day. Soldiers guarded streets where there is danger 
from falling walls, and at each end could be seen groups of men and 
women silently gazing past the military cordon at the ruins of what was 
once their homes. 

The scenes in the desolated cities during those terrible days that fol- 
lowed the catastrophe are vividly pictured by one of the officers of the 
American cruiser Yankton. He says : 

"When we had passed Scylla and rounded Capo del Faro there 
opened upon us the panorama of destruction. Faro, Paradiso, and all the 
villages along the coast were in ruins. Then Messina came into sight. 
The sun was setting, and a lovely frame of violet hills, a tranquil dark sea, 
and a sky of emerald and gold surrounded the scene of the world's great- 
est tragedy. 

"At first the extent of the disaster was not apparent, for some still 
standing white walls showed prettily against the dark background, and 
it was hard to believe that the city was destroyed. But soon we saw that 
nothing remained but tottering shells. All along the magnificent, curved 
sea front was ruin. Nothing broke the desolate line. Nothing had been 

"And then we entered the harbor and the most dreadful things of all 
became apparent to us. Messina was dead. Throughout the length of 
the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which a few days ago had been an espla- 
nade busy with traffic and gay with life and color, wag iilence -the fileuce 


of the grave. Sometimes a few soldiers passed, and at one point there 
was a small crowd waiting for the distribution of food. The rest was 
death. That was the first impression. 

''Night fell, and the only illumination was from lamps and the search- 
lights of many ships in the harbor. I was rowed ashore. The searchlight 
of an Italian warship played on a single spot, and to it the boatmen took 
me. It was where the troops had organized some sort of headquarters, 
and a little band of soldiers was sitting around a camp fire. 

"They talked softly, as men do in the presence of death, and, in the 
brilliant light from the ship, it seemed that this was the only place alive 
in what had been a town of 100,000 inhabitants. This was my second im- 

"I walked the length of the Corso, and then I realized the full horror 
of what had befallen Messina. The largest city in Sicily had been 
smashed as a glass dish would be smashed if it were thrown upon a stone 
floor. That any of the inhabitants survived seems a miracle. That the 
most appalling estimates of the loss of life have not been exaggerations 
appears evident. To go into details is useless. It is ruin everywhere. 
The only thing I found intact was Montorsolis's beautiful fountain of 


"No real comparison between Messina and San Francisco is pos- 
sible/' adds the officer. "I was in San Francisco five days after the earth- 
quake, and already wooden structures were being put up, work had be- 
gun on the tramway lines, and the main streets were crowded with cheer- 
ful, hopeful people. The residential portion of the city had been spared, 
and just across the bay was Oakland, to serve as a temporary place of 
business. The case of Messina was altogether different. Soon there will 
be nobody left but troops. A small settlement may be established, but 
Messina has disappeared." 

"A woman was rescued at Reggio, nearly two weeks after the first 
great disaster. Beside her was the corpse of a child five months old. She 
had tried to protect the infant with her body, but the baby had been dead 
seven days, during all of which the mother lay unable to move beneath 


the wreckage. An exactly similar occurrence was reported during the 
great earthquake of the eighteenth century. 

"Another thrilling episode of those terrible days following was the 
rescue of two survivors of Messina. One was a woman so exhausted that 
she succumbed. The other was a two-year-old baby, so bright and lively 
that it seemed to have come from the comfortable warmth of a cradle. 

"The horror was greater than any one who did not see it can imag- 
ine. To walk along the quays and avenues, in the square and gardens, 
was to walk among massive ruins and through one great charnal house 
of large palaces, offices, public buildings, the cathedral, and churches. 
There was nothing but rubbish heaps, piles of dust, bricks, and splinters 
three stories high, from which one could pick up here a silver tray, there 
a lady's lace scarf, again a box of men's collars, books, diaries, photo- 
graphs, picture postcards, or statues and curios. 

"Many of the walls stood as mere shells, and inside were mountains 
of debris. From some windows still hung curtains. Here the floor col- 
lapsed with the bed. There pictures were still on the wall and all the rest 
splinters and dust. 


"But all that was mere material destruction. The real horror was 
indescribably worse. The mere physical fact of the odor that entered the 
nostrils on landing was terrible. Then the processions of troopers bear- 
ing shapeless bundles on stretchers endless processions. From some 
of these burdens a charred hand or foot emerged. In others one dis- 
cerned under the clothes the profile of a face or the outline of a form. 
Stretcher after stretcher went by. 

"A few steps further on one found bodies laid at street corners and 
left unwatched. Then more of such open-air charnel houses at every 
turn. Here were dozers of corpses in a row; there fifty; further on per- 
haps a hundred, and close by the survivors hundreds around a fire. 

"Camps were rigged up everywhere and scores of children are play- 
ing a few steps from those terrible wrapped-up bundles. Tents and 
wooden huts were put up in avenues and squares for the survivors. Some 
were in disabled cabs, some under mere stretchers of rags. 


"I went up a number of alleys, streets, and arcades where the way 
was passable. Others were blocked up stories high with debris all 
around. The arcades, from the Conservatorio Emmanuele to the Via 
Garibaldi, were bare and black with smoke. The municipal palace was 
still burning furiously inside. The British Consulate was outwardly little 
damaged, but inside completely wrecked. Over it flew the flag un- 

''Many arches were still intact, but the shops were a mass of wreck- 
age jewelers' shops, art studios, banks and milliners' shops were full of 
rubbish. Near by the Trinacria Hotel was razed with English and Ger- 
man visitors still beneath the ruins. 

"The large Via San Martino was a desert. The frontage of the 
houses was little damaged; inside nothing but a mass of rubbish. Across 
the road a row of dozen corpses, and close by survivors and troopers 
camped around great wood fires. 


"At the other end of the town were larger camps. The Piazza della 
Porta-Bassa was crowded with tents. Mothers nursed their babes by 
gypsy fires on which rations cooked while the children played about un- 
heeding, all clad in strange and many-colored odd garments. Rich and 
poor mingled and one could not tell who in the crowd was a rich Sicilian 
noble and who a beggar. All are alike poor now. Yet there were many 
of them who were extraordinarily uncomplaining. They se.em resigned. 
They may be stricken dumb and dazed. 

"Across the Corso by the seaboard the colony under the tents was 
more loudly tragic. An old woman wounded lay shrieking incessantly. 
I passed her tent six times and she was still shrieking, with her husband 
prostrate by her side. Along the road wooden huts harbored families 
in extraordinary rags some brilliant, some filthy. In a railed-off park 
bread was being given out as quickly as possible by troopers, and a heart- 
rending, hungry mob crushed against the bars shouting, whining, and 
moaning for bread like wild animals at feeding time." 

One of the saddest scenes America saw in connection with the 'dis- 
aster was witnessed in New York when four hundred Sicilian steerage 


passengers on the steamship Germania, which arrived a week later from 
Naples, were stricken with grief when they learned for the first time of 
the disaster which had befallen their relatives and friends in Messina. 

Not a word of the earthquake had reached them until the steamship 
reached her dock, when a reporter boarded the vessel and through an 
interpreter broke the news to them. At first they were inclined to be 
incredulous and seemed not to realize that any of them were concerned 
until one of the passengers from Messina asked whether the earthquake 
had damaged that city. 

"Messina is wiped out," replied the interpreter. 

"My whole family is there," shrieked the passenger. "My poor wife 
and children; they are all dead." 

The beart-broken Sicilian threw himself on the deck, and though 
his fellow passengers crowded around and endeavored to comfort him 
he continued to bewail his fate. 

Others thronged about the interpreter and questioned him franti- 
cally about the disaster, and as each new detail showing the great loss of 
life was related those coming from the earthquake region wept and wrung 
their hands or ran shrieking about the deck. 

So distressing did the scene become that the captain ordered the 
interpreter to discontinue his tale until the Sicilians had left the ship. 

Many of the passengers declared that they would return to Sicily at 
once, but were dissuaded when they were informed that the dead would 
have been buried long before they could reach their homes. 



'T^HE stricken region is something the shape of New Jersey, but it 
is larger; it was more populous. We may figure Messina as 
Paterson, a town about its size; every building is a ruin, every street a 
plague spot, the army in control, the refugees being removed to Pitts- 
burg. Jersey City is scarcely larger than Catania, where the tidal wave 
smashed every small boat and half ruined all the town below the heights. 
Caltanisetta, the sulphur capital, is as large as Elmira; and a thousand 
dead lie there. In the seventy-mile circuit about Edna lie Giarre, Acir- 
eale, Paterno, Bronte, the town of Lord Nelson's title; Aderno and 
Belpasso, with 120,000 people. A population like that of Newark and 
the Oranges lies here in the perpetual power of Etna; we do not yet 
know how they have fared. 

In the north it is the soil that yields harvests; in the south, the sun. 
We can form no concept of the extent of the terror without remember- 
ing the exceeding density of population wherever the cultivable shores 
invite industry. The railroad running from Messina to Catania is like 
that from New York to New Haven in the number and size of the towns 
and villages. 

Imagine along all that distance a tidal wave of more than thirty feet, 
piled higher by resisting obstacles, and following an earthquake like San 
Francisco* The colder Calabrian coast facing the northwest is not quite 
so populous, but even there the earthquake found no lack of victims. 

In a little time the world outside will turn to other topics more near, 
to it more preseimg. We wonder at nothing long. But sine steam and 
the cable knit all nations closer together the brotherhood of man is bet- 
ter understood. It is only known that the earthquake is the greatest 
disaster of historic time; it is certain that no other has ever so appealed 
to the sympathy and the generosity of the whole world. 



From the Sicilian mountains to the west of flaming Etna, Italy's 
broad road of immemorial ruin runs northeastward to Cotrone, on the 
Adriatic Sea. It is the path that the worst earthquakes have taken for 
the past thirty centuries. It is the path chosen by the great disaster ol 
December 28, 1908. 

Further back than written history goes the legends run telling tales 
of destruction wrought by the wrath of the heathen gods. Before the 
birth of Christ, so the dwellers in this smiling but treacherous landscape 
believed, it was here that was fought the tremendous battle between 
Jupiter and the giants for the conquest of Heaven itself. Enceladus, 
the leader of the conquered giants, was laid postrate and Mount Etna 
was piled upon him. 

Even to this day some of the more ignorant of the survivors of the 
latest disaster believe that the earthquake is this ancient giant stirring 
in his pain, struggling to free himself from his bonds and to arise, and 
that the flames that made lurid the skies were his fiery breath. 

Probably this myth had its origin in some such appaling disaster as 
the one that on that December night in 1908 laid waste once more the 
south of Italy and the east of Sicily. 


In later times Calabria the province that makes the foot and the 
ankle of Italy's "boot" and Sicily have been shaken again and again by 
earthquakes, causing the death of unnumbered thousands. 

Yet the land lies desolate but a little while, as time is measured by 
history. In a few years it smiles again with fruit and oil and wine, and 
then, when the living generations long have ceased to remember the 
dread tales of those that are gone the earth trembles again and this broad 
road of ruin once more is strewn with the bodies of the dead, whose only 
monuments are the stones of ruined cities piled above them. 

The Italian clings to the traditions of his ancestors with greater 
tenacity, perhaps, than any other race. 

Since history began to be written men have dwelt on the slopes of 
the volcanoes of Etna and Vesuvius, though knowing that any moment 
they might be overwhelmed by fire or lava or ashes. It is the ashes, in- 


deed, that the volcano casts forth that are the irresistible temptation for 
the Italian agriculturist. They are the finest and cheapest fertilizer 

This is a temptation indeed, but at best its prize is a bare existence, 
while the penalty is, all too frequently, death. 

When Mount Etna scatters them far and wide farmers rejoice, for 
that means that the crops will be abundant. In no place do the groves 
of oranges and lemons and olives flourish as they do under the volcano's 
shadow, and nowhere else is their chance of life so small. 

The finest oranges in the world come from the groves on the shoul- 
ders of Etna. Some of these lands, continually menaced by earthquake 
and flame have escaped destruction from the floods of molten lava and 
have been cultivated for centuries without other fertilization than has 
come from the ashes blown down from the crater far above, and they are 
as productive as they were 2,000 years ago. 

But all this region of fertility and plenty in Sicily and Calabria is a 
deserted waste now along the broad path which the earthquakes have 
scarred time and again through the centuries. Of the nearly two mil- 
lion people who lived in the whole region a tenth, perhaps more, per- 

Detail slowly added to detail, horror upon horror's head, no longer 
permit doubt that the earthquake was the most appalling disaster of 
modern times. The estimates of loss vary up to 250,000, whom Prof. 
Rioco, director of the Etna Observatory, believes to have perished. 
The number will never be positively known. Perhaps the larger esti- 
mates are the more accurate. 


At San Francisco fewer than a thousand dead; in the pounding 
maelstrom of the Johnstown flood less than three thousand. These dis- 
asters shook the nation from end to end ; conceive what must have been 
the feeling in Italy, especially in Southern Italy, familiar now with the 
sight of refugees, famished, wounded and bereaved! 

Messina loet 40,000 from plague in 1740, 16,000 from cholera so 
recently as 1856; inch times of death and panic are far surpassed now in 


that town alone. More than once in modern times famine has destroyed 
its million people in India, but their pitifully dragging deaths lack the 
dramatic shock of earthquake. And then they were so far away, so 
little bound to us by ties of blood, so apathetic even to each other's suf- 
ferings ! 

Mont Pelee did its work six years earlier with awful thoroughness, 
but within a little space comparatively. The wreck of Herculaneum and 
Pompeii was not in loss of life a great calamity The earthquake that en- 
gulfed Lisbon was far less destructive, and for a horror to cap that we 
must go back more than two hundred years. 

The great Calabrian earthquake of 1783, which stands out in the 
history of that oft-stricken country with horrid distinctness because of 
the completeness and accuracy of the reports which have been handed 
down, is credited with having killed 30,000. 


Earthquake and disaster have been periodical in Calabria and Sicily 
so long as the memory of man runs, and while the early traditional state- 
ments of the loss of life and property were doubtless exaggerated, the 
ascertained facts of history are sombre enough. 

Less than half a century ago a careful observer made the estimate 
that in the Kingdom of Naples alone in the three-quarters of a century 
previous the annual toll taken by earthquakes was 1500 lives, and in the 
period since that date the disasters have been repeated and severe. 

Wholesale emigration has not helped the situation, and the con- 
stantly recurring famine and pestilence in the train of the earthquakes 
have helped to make these provinces the most beautiful in Italy, and full 
of priceless historic association, the most backward in the kingdom. 

What will be its future? Who shall say? 

I have seen the peasants on the slopes of Vesuvius, laying the foun- 
dations of houses to replace their overwhelmed homes while the lava 
beneath their feet was still too hot to be touched with the naked hand. 

Dig a foot down and it is a molten mass, red with the heat of nature's 
furnaces. Yet with desolation and destruction all around him, the peas- 
ant nonchalantly goes on with his owrk. 


"It is fate," he mutters. "If God is to strike, he can strike elsewhere 
as well as here." 

That is his philosophy. That is his impulse to-day founded on the 
history of the past. 

Messina may never rise from its ruins. Reggio's bones may bleach 
to the sun of the centuries. Who can say? 

The money or material loss in the earthquake district was calcu- 
lated in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars. When it is considered 
that this blow fell upon a very small area and a relatively few people, the 
utter devastation following in the wake of the disaster appalls the imagi- 

A destructive earthquake such as this, accompanied by a tidal wave, 
appears to remove the very foundation of the people's property ani sus- 

In San Francisco fires and West Indian hurricanes something is left 
to the survivors. Houses are torn to pieces, many people are wounded 
and killed, the property damage is great, but the sun shines for the sur- 
vivors, food is within reach, hope is left. 


In the wake of the Italian earthquake the means of life were s.val- 
lowed up at one stroke, and there remained only desolation complete 
and staggering. 

One of the brightest aspects of this terrible calamity was the ex- 
hibition of the spirit of pity, mercy and helpfulness which animated the 
world In this splendid rivalry the United States was in the forefront, and 
one nation spoke to another. 

A century and a quarter ago all Calabria trembled for one awful 
moment. When the earth grew still again 50,000 lay dead. Fifty-two 
years later occurred a comparatively minor disaster, and but a thousand 
were killed. In 1857 Calabria lost 10,000 inhabitants by another earth- 

In Sicily, in 1783, the same tremor that shook Calabria nearly de- 
stroyed Messina and killed 60,000 of its inhabitants, besides causing great 


loss of life and damage to property throughout the eastern part of the 

In 1894 and in 1906 there were other similar disasters, though on a 
less appalling scale. 

The various scourges of the earthquakes can be traced chronologi- 
cally all along this broad highway of destruction with fair accuracy by 
one familiar with architecture. 

In an ancient town like Messina, for instance, the antiquarian's and 
archaeologist's eye can read the date of the earthquake's autograph every- 

It is the custom in Messina, as elsewhere throughout seismic Italy, 
for the inhabitants to rebuild the ruined structures in the style of archi- 
tecture in vogue at the time of their destruction. 

Therefore, scattered all over the older part of Messina are bits of 
ruins illustrating the architectural fashions of every one of its epochs of 
prosperity in the twenty-seven centuries of its life. In the other cities 

of Sicily and Calabria it is the same. 



But even though every rebuilding marks a change in architecture, 
in the outward lines of the structures, yet their general principles of con- 
struction remain the same, and every feature that has caused the. death of 
thousands in the past when the earth has rocked is retained religiously. 

From time immemorial the houses have been built of stone mas- 
sive, it is true. But an earthquake such as that of 1908 would tumble the 
Pyramids themselves into the dust. 

Past disasters seem to be forgotten by the time the stricken cities 
begin to rise again, and little if any effort appears to be made to take ad- 
vantage of the lessons taught by past disasters. 

Great stone cornices top the walls, broad gutters of heavy stone 
overhang the eaves of the houses to catch the infrequent rains. 

When the earthquake comes these things are the first to fall, and 
even if safety is sought in the usual havens of refuge beneath the arches 
of the buildings these great masses of stone falling from a considerable 


height and sending their pieces flying in every direction cause many to 

In Japan, which is a more highly seismic country than Italy and 
whose climate is much the same as that part of the latter country that is 
subject to earthquakes, the houses are mostly of bamboo, and of the light- 
est description. 

When the earth rocks there, even if the bamboo dwellings do fall, 
the inhabitants crawl out of them quite unhurt, and the "loss of life and 
property is small. It is rare to hear of many perishing from an earth- 
quake in Japan, unless it be accompanied by a tidal wave. 


But while bamboo is cheap and available in Japan, neither that nor 
wood of any description exists in abundance in Italy. It is a country 
comparatively denuded of its forests. 

Those that are preserved are jealously guarded, and wood is costly. 
Even the "box shooks" as the thin strips of lumber from which the 
boxes in which lemons are shipped are called are sent from this country* 

Stone, on the other hand, is plentiful and cheap. Therefore, every 
building is of stone, some a little more massive than others, according to 
the wealth of the owner. 

But even the structure with the thickest walls will fall apart when 
the earth rises and falls like the sea. 

The cities of Central and South America, where violent shocks are 
felt occasionally, are built almost entirely from concrete, which makes 
an entire edifice one homogeneous mass, just as if it were carved from 
one solid block of stone. These withstand the impact of the jolting earth 
far better than structures where stones are piled one above the other. 

Yet, strangely enough, in southern Italy, in the very country where 
cement was invented by the Romans, but few of these concrete buildings 
are to be found to-day. 

Most of the examples of concrete construction are bridges and 
arches built by the Romans themselves from ten to twenty centuries ago. 
These, despite a little outward crumbling at the corners and surface 
cracks, are as strong as if they were put up within the last decade. 


The long procession of earthquakes seems to have passed them by 
without touching them with a destroying hand. 

In other ways, too, progress has stood still in this earthquake land. 
Even the largest cities that have sewerage systems at all possess those 
that are far behind the standard set by the sanitary engineers of other 
places of similar size. 

In the larger towns the ancient system of cesspools is in common 
use, and in the smaller the centuries-old custom of letting the sewage 
flow into a gutter in the centre of the street and thence to some spot on 
a lower level where it may enrich the ground is in use. 


Many of the ruined cities never will be rebuilt, in all probability. 

Reggio, for example, a town of 50,000 inhabitants, of whom but tew 
escaped alive, doubtless will disappear from the map. 

Messina, a town of 150,000, in the storm centre of the earthquake, 
though it has lasted for 2,700 years, may never recover fully from the 
present disaster. 

An important factor in reconstruction is likely to be lacking when 
the country tries to adjust itself from this terrible shock. 

A large part of the population will emigrate as quickly as possible to 
America, leaving but few to carry on the work of rebuilding the shat- 
tered cities and reclaiming the devastated fields and vineyards and groves. 

That will mean that during the few years hundreds of thousands of 
the peasants from the Calabrian mountains, Sicilians from the slopes of 
Etna men of all occupations in life will set sail for North and South 

This country is sure to get the full of the emigration in fact, New 
York will get such an influx of Italians as it never had before. 

It is possible, in addition to the sum given to the earthquake vie- 
time, that another vast fund will be raised in this country for the bringing 
of this great army hither. 

But the amount of this fund never will be known, for it will flow 
over to Italy in little driblets from the millions of Italians here who have 
friends and relatives over there. 


The scientists are beginning already to disagree about the causes ot 
this great earthquake. 

One group of seismologists contends that it was caused by a leakage 
of water through the bed of the ocean, through the earth's crust, in fact, 
until it reached the subterranean fires that feed the volcanoes. 

Even when it is considered that the thickness of the earth's crust 
is fifteen or twenty miles, scientists of this school claim that this theory 
is entirely reasonable, and point out the length of time during which the 
water sweeps through the rocks and stores itself in some vast chamber in 
the earth, finally to be turned to steam by the unquenchable fires beneath. 

Then the terrific force of the imprisoned vapor finally reaches the 
point where it has to burst forth and it shakes the earth. 

Another group, equally eminent, is quite as positive that the sliding 
and shifting of the earth's crust bring about the disturbance. But while 
there is much speculation about the cause of earthquakes, no man has 
been bold enough yet to advance any theory as to how they may be pre- 

Whatever the cause, the result in this recent disaster has been to 
materially change the geographical features of southern Italy and of 



recent appalling disaster in Southern Italy one of the greatest 
disasters that has ever befallen the earth in which entire cities 
and villages were swallowed up by earth and sea, and hundreds of thou- 
sands of lives were lost, has created a worldwide inquiry into the present 
physical condition of the earth we live on. 

A man need not be a cynic to ask, "Is this earth a safe place of 
abode?" Apparently not in certain spots. 

With volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tidal waves occurring in 
some places, what is to prevent similar unexpected outbreaks in others? 
Nothing at all, under similar geographical conditions. 

These and many other questions and answers have probably arisen 
in the mind of every speculative man and woman since the dawn of the 
new year, when the full extent and horror of the Italian disaster began 
to be fully realized. And it is scarcely to be expected that very much 
consolation will be derived therefrom, or even from the statements of 
somes scientists regarding this earth's internal troubles, their alarming 
causes and probable disastrous results. 

It is not very comforting, for instance, to be solemnly informed that 
we are living to-day on the outer shell of a high pressure boiler, which 
leaks badly in certain weak spots and "blows out" with alarming fre- 
quency, along a certain weak plate which is geographically known as the 
"earthquake belt." 

If you take a map of the world and draw a broad line straight across 
the Pacific Ocean, from the Philippine Islands to Panama, thence across 
the Atlantic Ocean through the British West Indies to Spain and Italy, 
thence continuing across Europe and Asia to Japan, and on to the start- 



ing point in the Philippines, you will see exactly where the earthquake 
belt lies. 

There are other minor belts, one of which passes southward along 
the coast of California and Mexico and the west coast of South America. 
There are evidences observable to-day in practically all parts of the world 
of other earthquake belts in which tremendous geological changes and 
upheavals were wrought in prehistoric times. 

Even New York City is in an earthquake belt. At some time, prob- 
ably thousands and thousands of years ago, a might earthquake split 
asunder the rock that united what is now the island of Manhattan to the 
Palisades of the New Jersey coast. That earthquake formed the Hudson 

Earthquake belts are admittedly weak spots in the outer crust of 
the earth the high pressure boiler on which we live and there is no 
evidence that any of them were ever permanently repaired. 


Professor Edward Seuss, the eminent Vienna geologist, predicted a 
few days ago that eruptions would follow earthquake and tidal wave in 
Southern Italy He attributes the earthquake to the sinking of the earth's 
crust, otherwise a buckling of the boiler plates, in the zone of which the 
Lipari Islands are the centre He declared that as the process of sinking 
went on the Calabrian and Sicilian highlands on either side of the Straits 
of Messina would be submerged, only the highest peaks remaining above 
the sea. The strait, he said, would thereby be greatly widened. 

Professor Suess is of the opinion that the earth's crust is gradually 
shrinking everywhere. There is consolation to be found, however, in his 
further remark that the life of the human species will be too short to 
make this phenomenon important to mankind. 

The average thickness of the earth's crust, the boiler pjates, is gene- 
rally assumed to be fifty miles and its average density to be about five 
times that of water. Scientists have estimated that the downward pres- 
sure at a depth of fifty miles below the surface of the earth is somewhat 
in excess of half a million pounds to the square inch It is a safe conclu- 
sion that within a large portion of the earth's crust there exist pent-up 


gases, particularly steam under a pressure equal to that exerted by the 
most powerful high explosives High explosives probably exert pres- 
sures ranging from 200,000 to 350,000 pounds to the square inch. 

When a high explosive is detonated the amount of pressure depends 
upon the volume of gases liberated and the temperature of the gases. 
Nitroglycerine, exploded in a space where it could not expand, would 
exert a pressure of probably from 300,000 to 350,000 pounds to the 
square inch. The pressure would certainly be less than half a million 
pounds to the square inch, although the temperature of the gases would 
equal the boiling point of steel. Consequently, with a 500,000 pound 
force holding in check a 350,000 pound force which is continuously exert- 
ing itself in an effort to burst the earth's crust asundecr, it is reasonably 
safe to assume that the stronger force will continue to prevail, for some 
time to come at least, and that there is not the slightest danger of the 
earth blowing to pieces. 


Unfortunately, as the appalling record of earthquakes shows, there 
are many very weak spots in the earth's crust. Deep down under the 
crust, where water has entered through faults, to be entrapped and 
highly heated, with no room for expansion, it dissolves the rock, and as 
under the enormous pressures it forces its way through narrow crevices 
to new positions it cuts new channels in the granite floors, just as in 
glacial time subglacial streams cut passages through the ice. 

Consequently, when the eruption of a volcano takes place, relieving 
the pressures in the deep passages under it, there is a' rush toward the 
outlet of streams of superheated water made syrupy with stone in solu- 
tion. As these streams of silica-charged water find vent at the volcano 
the expansion of the pent-up stream takes place with explosive violence, 
forming volcanic dust and pumice stone, which are belched forth in stu- 
pendous quantities. Then portions of the earth's crust, which have been 
resting upon a support of steam under dynamite pressures, naturally sag 
and shift when those pressures are removed or materially lessened. 

The vast amount of solid matter ejected at times from volcanoes is 
difficult of comprehension. The great volcano Krakatoa had been ex- 

9 ITA: 


tinct for ages when, in 1883, its top blew off with a shock felt clear 
through the earth, and with a blast that sent a wave of air around the 
earth three times, while the fine volcanic dust did not entirely settle out 
of the atmosphere for more than two years, as was indicated by the un- 
usually brilliant display of red sunsets. It is estimated that more mud 
was ejected from the mountain on that occasion than the Mississippi 
River discharges in two hundred and fifty years. This was the greatest 
volcanic eruption in historic times. The distance is not too great nor 
the time too remote for the eruption of Mont Pelee to have caused the 
earthquakes of San Francisco, Valparaiso and Kingston, while possibly 
Vesuvius may have played a material part. 


In the opinion of the astronomical editor of the Almanach Hachette, 
earthquakes will never cease until the shell, or crust, of the earth rests 
upon a completely solidified block The earth will then be in a form 
which only exterior forces can modify But at this distant and fantastic 
epoch the sun will no longer send us heat, and the earth, like the moon, 
will have become a wandering sepulchre in the vast abysses of space, 
without atmosphere. 

For the benefit of any who may be anxious to find some place on 
this high-pressure boiler beyond reach of earthquakes and volcanoes, at- 
tention is directed to a statement recently made by Professor T. J. J. 
See, in charge of the naval observatory at Mare Island, Cal., and profes- 
sor of mathematics in the navy. 

"There are a considerable number of earthquakes which occur in- 
land," said Professor See, "but it is found that they all occur in regions 
of abundant underground or meteoric water, while none at all occur in 
the great inland deserts. The great deserts, like Sahara, are the only 
regions on the earth wholly free from the danger of earthquakes, though 
in many places where the sea is shallow and the rocks are little broken 
the leakage is very gradual, and no severe shocks occur. 

"This is true for Northern Europe and the eastern part of the United 
States, for example, and both of these regions are comparatively free 
from earthquakes. In deep seas, where the pressure is great, as along the 


west coast of South America, east of Japan, near Sumatra and Ja-va in the 
East Indies and elsewhere, the formation of steam under the earth's crust 
accumulates rapidly and the coasts are continually shaken by violent 
earthquakes, which originate generally under the deep troughs of the 
adjacent seas. This shows the nature of the cause at work. 

"When the steam pressure has become great enough a shock occurs, 
and some relief is afforded until greater pressure develops and the phe- 
nomenon is renewed. When the great world-shocking earthquakes oc- 
cur, of which there are more than sixty each year, lava is often expelled 
from under the sea and the land more or less elevated. Sometimes new 
islands are upheaved in the same way. 

"There are about four hundred active volcanoes on islands and about 
the margins of the oceans. Numerous eruptions occur beneath the sea, 
but none at all inland at distances exceeding about one hundred miles 
from oceans or equivalent large bodies of water. 


Hudson Maxim, however, gave an added note of reassurance when 
he said: 

"The theory is frequently advanced that planets, and even suns, 
sometimes explode, and that the earth may some day blow up like a 
bombshell. No celestial body the size of the earth could possibly ex- 

"If the entire molten interior of our globe could be replaced with ni- 
troglycerine and detonated, the explosion would not lift the earth's crust. 
In other words, if we assume that the crust of the earth is from fifty to one 
hundred miles in thickness, it would require something much more pow- 
erful than even nitroglycerine to burst the shell. 

"It is necessary only to do a little figuring to see that the pressure 
of the earth's crust at a depth of from fifty to a hundred miles far exceeds 
the pressure exerted by the most powerful high explosive." 

"While the disaster in the south of Italy, from a human standpoint, 
is appalling," said Prof. William Hallock, of Columbia University, "prob- 
ably the most awful catastrophe in man's history of man, it cannot be 
regarded as so important an indication of the earth's scientific vagaries 


as the quake in San Francisco. The disturbance on the Pacific coast 
extended for an area of over 200 miles, while the actual place of disturb- 
ance in Italy was very much smaller. 

"Of course, to the minds of the superstitious and the scientifically 
disinterested, there is in an earthquake an extraordinary element of un- 
known horror, of an impending disaster that lies under our feet, over 
which we have no control, no forecast, and no means of protection. It 
comes suddenly and in a few seconds, perhaps, destroys hundreds of 
thousands of human beings. 

"The actual mystery of the earthquake is only partially explained in 
scientific research, that, by deductive theories, only manages to pacify 
our awe of the unknown. 

"There are things we know about the interior of the earth, and 
many things we don't know, but would like to. We are ourselves merely 
on the crust of the earth, which scientists have variously estimated to be 
from ten to fifty miles below us. From the inner edge of this crust to 
the centre there are, presumably, gaseous matter substances of excessive 


"The temperature of the centre of the earth, which has been sensa- 
tionally declared to be 'inconceivable' by Flammarion and others, is prob- 
ably not so at all. 

"Calculating a conception of these inner temperatures of the earth 
by the increasing heat that miners find as they descend deeper and deeper 
into it, it may be assumed that the probable temperature of the centre 
of the earth is about equal to that of an arc light or an electric furnace, 
which is about 5000 to 6000 degrees Fahrenheit. 

"We have a fair precedent for this theory in the temperatures taken 
in the Yellow Jacket Mine, in Michigan, which is, perhaps, the deepest 
hole that has been made in the earth, extending a little over a mile from 
the surface toward the centre. 

"In the deepest part of this mine the temperatures, which are not 
much worse than the heat of a summer day in Arizona, represent about 
one-four-thousandth of the entire distance from the surface of the earth 


to its centre. If the increase in temperature occurs in the same ratio as 
our observation of it in mines has shown, then we may assume that there 
is in the centre of the earth a gaseous liquid that has the extreme heat of 
an electric furnace. 

"So far it seemed that what we most feared was scientifically in- 
dorsed, namely, that the earth was a shell filled with explosive gases that 
might blow us all to kingdom come at any time. This was not a scientific 
fact ,however, but merely a theory of modern sensationalists. 

"The idea that this liquid gaseous material in the centre of the earth 
resembles a vast volume of air, in a toy balloon, for instance," said Profes- 
sor Hallock, "is not scientifically accepted. 

"The entire earth is pressure rigid. 

"It is subject to differences of load caused by the shifting of that 
load. It is the incessant readjustment of balances in the integral rigidity 
of the earthsphere that causes earthquakes. 


"Imagine the tons upon tons that are carried from the mountains 
to the sea by the rivers ! 

"The Mississippi River alone probably bears continuously millions 
of tons from the mountains to the ocean. 

"Necessarily a pressure taken from one place and increased in an- 
other too suddenly causes a cave-in, or releases a pressure from below, 
which makes the upheavals we call earthquakes. 

"It is an accepted theory in the scientific examination of the earth's 
substance that it is as nearly pressure solid as it can be, but not wholly 
so, a conclusion that leads us to believe that the adjustments of pressures 
is becoming steadier as the years progress. 

"The laws of nature, that are full of surprises to the student as long 
as he has life to pursue them, however, have a tendency to accomplish 
these physical readjustments with an almost imperceptible balance. 

"The centre of the earth, being a supremely heated conglomeration 
of molten matter, is an impending upward pressure, kept in check by a 
pressure of matter from above, as evenly as the marvels of natural law 


will permit. Usually the pressure of these upper layers of earth keeps 
it from a melting process. 

"A pan of paraffin, for instance, when frozen over, causes an even 
layer of thin solid matter on the top surface without any visible displace- 
ment or diminution. That top surface is susceptible to the pressure of an 
additional load placed upon it. 

''If this new load is adjusted evenly it will make no crack or break- 
age in the frozen surface; it will merely mix with the paraffin below, 
without any sudden physical activity. But if the new load is put upon 
the frozen surface of the paraffin unevenly it will create a visible cracking 
and upheaval in the pan. 

"So the pressures of the earth's surface, above and below, which are 
usually adjusted with a marvelously even distribution of the load, pre- 
vents upheavals, or, as the load is shifted suddenly from above, or from 
some place far below the crust of the earth, an upheaval occurs such as 
the Italian catastrophe has shown us. 

"The weight of the mountains of the earth, whose topmost peaks 
may be below the level of the sea, or thousands of feet above the valley, 
are geological indications of prehistoric earthquakes. Fossils have been 
found in mountains. It is possible that these mountains were made sud- 
denly in a titanic upheaval of the earth that lifted them out of the bottom 
of the sea 'in the twinkling of an eye.' 


"Who knows why it is hotter in the centre of the earth than on the 
surface ? 

"There is a theory that this chemical mystery in the bowels of the 
earth is caused by radio activity. I don't know. 

"Then there is a theory that the coast lines of the earth are more 
susceptible to earth upheavals than places remote from the sea. This 
theory is not fully sustained, because we have innumerable indications 
of earth tremors and oscillations in the interior of the land. 

"We know by calculations that the Jersey shore is settling; in the 
State of Massachusetts there are perhaps 200 earth shocks of a slight 
nature a vear. 


"The surface of the earth can be compared to the top of a barrel 
of asphalt, hard and rigid through and through, seamed and cracked on 
the surface by the elements. 

"For ten miles in a straight line below the surface the earth is prob- 
ably dry and hard, of a rock substance. The pressure of this substance 
upon the heated center of the earth keeps it from getting hotter than it 
is, just as you can keep water from boiling by an appropriately sufficient 
pressure. The fact that there is steam in volcanic eruptions is the leakage 
of the interior pressure of heat in the earth. 

"The character of matter in the center of the earth or its immediate 
environment must be something like pumicestone, porous, light, because 
when the earth's interior matter is melted in the high temperatures that 
are there it dissolves and there is considerable water in it that escapes 
through volcanic craters in steam. 

"Volcanoes and earthquakes, though undoubtedly related, are not 
inimical to one another, and are not alike. This is shown in the fact that 
destructive earthquakes may occur, and have occurred, in regions quite 
remote from volcanic eruption. 


"The lava that streams from the crater of a volcano is a sudden re- 
lease of the inner boiling liquids of the centre of the earth that in their 
transition from their origin to the atmosphere undergo innumerable 
stages of chemical change and evolution, causing the various strata of 
mineral quality that geology is continually uncovering. 

"The passage of these interior liquids of the centre of the earth may 
be tortuous, frequently caught in the overarching pockets that the earth 
causes in its readjusting upheavals, and remaining there for years, slowly 
working out a chemical activity for its own release. 

"The deeper one penetrates into the causes of the internal mystery 
of the earth, the more obviously theoretical is our knowledge. 

"I do not believe there is any relationship between sun spots and 
earthquakes; the elements and celestial influences are not concerned in 
the inner activities of the earth. 

"The temperature of heat in the centre of the earth which was di- 


rectly involved in the earthquake in Sicily was not higher than that of 
the temperature of an arc light, which is by no means inmonceivable. The 
surrounding pressures immediately controlling the heated liquids of its 
centre keeps that liquid substance more or less hard, which constitutes 
our belief that the earth is pressure rigid. 

"There is no doubt that earthquakes are diminishing. This is easily 
shown by comparing the history of the world's earthquakes as we know 
them according to the rapidity of geological changes. 

"The displacement shown by the cracks in the San Francisco earth- 
quake were only a few feet. 

"Geological observation of prehistoric earthquakes shows that the 
earth made fissures and slides of 20,000 feet. Take the evidence in geo- 
logical survey of Mount Shasta, in California, and the probable South 
American catastrophes of prehistoric time. 

"But there is no actual scientific assurance of the breadth and im- 
mensity of these gigantic upheavals. We are still in a state of theoretical 
conclusion about earthquakes. Actually our knowledge is comparatively 
limited; there is no possible forecast of earthquakes. The seismograph 
merely registers a disturbance when it is occurring. 

"Of course, the human comprehension of an earthquake phenomena 
is as primitive and terrifying as thunder and lightning was once a fearful 
demonstration to primitive races. 


"People continue to live on the sides of volcanoes, in the valleys of 
eruptive zones, with naive indifference to the danger about them. They 
learn no lesson in these disasters. The region in which this Italian earth- 
quake disaster occurred, although well known to be in the earthquake 
zone, had apparently quieted down. 

"We associate earthquakes with eruptive neighborhoods. If the re 
cent upheaval of the earth had taken place in the South Sea Islands the 
world would not have been so shocked. Of course, the appalling loss of 
life in the city of Messina was due to the fact that the houses were built 
of stucco and stone. In San Francisco the greater part of the housed 
were frame buildings of redwood. 


"Another cause of destruction was the tidal wave. 

"It takes a comparatively small upheaval of the bottom of the ocean 
to make a huge and destructive tidal wave. An upheaval that would 
make a hole in the sea bottom of forty or fifty feet would be enough to 
produce a tidal wave twenty or thirty feet high. 

"So far as we can conceive, with the help of scientific precedent and 
geological observation, there are sections of the earth that have appar- 
ently become immune to earthquakes, but there is no assurance of the 
matter. The disaster in Sicily was probably local, and could have no fore- 
cast in it of similar disaster in any distance directly in line but away 
from it. 

"Our observatory at Columbia is in direct latitude with an observa- 
tory in Naples, but there is no connection between longitudinal or lati- 
tudinal lines around about the earth with earthquakes. 

"In its scientific character the disaster in Italy is not so startling 
or important as the earthquake in San Francisco, but its aspect of human 
catastrophe has probably never been equalled in the history of man." 


"There are so many superficial reasons given for the cause of earth- 
quakes," said Professor Robert T. Hill, "that considering their appar- 
ently authentic sources are surprising. 

"Earthquakes, as terrible as they may seem when they destroy a few 
thousand human beings, are but one of the many manifestations which 
we have of the world at work, and their full significance is only compre- 
hensible to one who has eliminated from his mind the idea that we are 
living upon a dead and finished planet. 

"That is not only an old theory, but according to all the significant 
indications of intelligent science utterly untrue. The earth is not a dead 
planet, and very far from being a dying one. Its activity is eternal, its 
physical vitality is as restless and eager as the life of a growing child. 

"The earth is in a constant quivering tremor of constructive change. 
I cannot understand haw the superficial impression prevails among some 
scientists that earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are signs of the earth's 


"The earth is a great active, living, celestial mechanism, containing 
within its interior potent energies ever capable of repeating in the fu- 
ture processes which have taken place in the past. 

"These processes are not destructive by any means; they are the 
growing faculties, that instead of imperilling the life of the earth, establish 
its indestructibility. 

"From the unexplored interior of the earth comes the creation of 
such by-products as compose its elemental character. 

'The crust upon which we live, the oceanic waters concealing a far 
greater topography, and the atmosphere surrounding us, are but by- 
products of the intensely heated, terribly expansive and ever-active mat- 
ter of the unexplored interior. 

"It has always been incomprehensible to me, therefore, how the phe- 
nomena of volcanic eruptions always seems to give the impression that 
the earth is in a stage of dissolution. 

"How can dissolution occur in the actual expression of internal life 
sources that these earthquakes so vividly declare for us? This material, 
which is the inner meaning of the external life of our planet, has been 
the heart and blood of its existence, continuously pulsating through its 
terrestrial body, a physical certainty of growth. 

"The escape of this material to the exterior is known as volcanism, 
and the by-products of volcanism are liquids, solids and gases. 


"The solid by-product we call rocks, whether original volcanic ash 
or lava, or the watershed, far-transported muds of the ocean's border. 

"There is as distinct a purpose in the natural law of volcanic eruption 
as there is in the downfall of rain that moistens the parasite life of plants 
on the crust of the earth. 

"This rocky crust of the earth is always being added to by the vol- 
canoes and being torn down and washed away by the elements and the 
material deposited along sea borders. Not only this, but the rocks are 
being folded, fractured and otherwise broken or deformed by the great 
shrinking and settling of the earth's crust as a whole. 

"The contraction of the earth's sphere is the physical shrinkage of 


age that is measured in aeons instead of years. The prehistoric convul- 
sions of the earth before man inhabited this planet ware terrific, almost 

"Whole forests sank a mile deep! 

"The displacements that occur in the ceaseless readjustments of the 
life of the earth are not always sudden catastrophes of great violence, 

"Most people in observing mountains think that the great forces 
which brought about their deformation are phenomena of the past, but 
these transformation movements, scarcely perceptible sometimes, are 
going on as much to-day as they ever did. 


"It is these movements which make the earthquakes, and the Sicilian 
horror, from a geological standpoint, can only be looked upon as one of 
the dislocations which are constantly going on since the earth first formed 
a crust and which will go on until it is cooled to its centre. 

"It may be startling to realize that we have an earthquake every fif- 
teen minutes, perhaps, but no one feels them, or is conscious of these 
tremors. The earthquakes of modern times bear the same comparison to 
the earth's evolution of life measured from its beginning. 

"There have been greater catastrophes in geological history than 
any earthquakes observed by man. 

"The European and American Mediterranean area seem both to 
have been sites of great weakness and movement. There is evidence in 
our own West Indies that in late Eocene time, before man is supposed 
to have arrived on the scene, there were vast and sudden disappearances 
of land area beneath the sea, and that the crust has heaved up and down 
through thousands of feet several times. 

"In the rocks of Barbadoes, for instance, it is recorded that a forested 
land area went suddenly and rapidly down until it was a mile deep. There 
it was covered with deep-sea animal oozes and mud. After a time it was 
again rapidly elevated into land, and carved into hills by the rain. Again 
it went down suddenly, before the topography could be leveled fcy the 
erosion, which wears down all mountains in time. 


"Since this last submergence it has gradually risen to noo feet above 
the sea, all draped or veneered with coral reef rock. The myth of the At- 
lantis is undoubtedly founded on some occurrence of this kind. 

"All volcanic action is constructive, not destructive, to the life of 
the earth. I cannot see how it is conceivable that we are on a dying 
planet or on a combustible sphere that has no intelligent purposes of 
growth in its phenomena ! 

"I cannot see how the world can come to an end in the sensational 
manner of some gigantic disaster. 

"It is foolish to anticipate or to attempt to predict the great earth- 
quakes with certainty, although science may yet help us out. 

"It is certainly much more foolish to encourage the illiterate and 
superstitious in ideas that the world may come to an end, as was done 
in this city a few days ago. 

"The world can never come to an end ! 

"It may some day in the infinite future grow old, cease working and 
quaking and die as the moon as died. But even then it will not come to 
an end, nor will it be destructible. 

"No human mind of intelligence can conceive of a method whereby 
it can be destroyed. 

"Better dream of it as a future finished derelict in the great milky 
way, or some other cemetery of finished plants. 


"The temperature of the interior matter, in the centre of the earth, 
has been variously calculated, but I am not of the opinion that there is 
any certainty in these conclusions. The temperatures that are formed in 
mines, for instance, vary. There is no scientific certainty, therefore, in 
these figures. The scientist always encounters the unknown, the un- 
knowable, and we can only speculate to the best of our ability by scientific 
precedent, by weeding out the true from the false. 

"For instance there is an impression that there is a condition of the 
atmosphere, preceding an earthquake that helps to predict and forewarn. 
There is no scientific basis for the calm that prevailed in San Francisco 
for a long time of what they called earthquake weather. Rain or fog is 


no prediction of an earthquake any more than sultry temperatures, or 
thunder and lightning have anything to do with it. 

"The clouds that usually hover over active volcanoes have no im- 
mediate relation with an earthquake, as is frequently supposed. The 
clouds are a natural evaporation of the steam and gaseous substances 
thrown out of the crater. 

'The plant and forest life of the crust of the earth is only a parasite 
life that draws its substance and food from the universal volcanism that 
supplies it with material to blossom and flourish. 

"Proceeding from the contention that every part of the earth's ma- 
terial is a by-product of the inner activities of the centre of the earth, 
the world's obligation to that activity makes the process of adjusting 
earthquakes a promising assurance of the continuity of our planet. 


"Quake movements, more or less imperceptible, are going on all 
the time in many places every day. There is no guarantee, nor, in view 
of this theory, would we wish to have one, that the earth's tremors will 

"Professor Penck, the distinguished German geologist, with whom 
the Kaiser recently honored this country by sending him as an inter- 
change lecturer, gave an illustrated lecture in New York a few weeks 
ago, wherein he showed the effects of some of the great movements of 
the folding and sliding Alps. 

"These geologic movements are going on in many places to-day. 
Occasionally they move with a jerk, and then it depends on who is in 
the way. 

"This is what happened in the awful disaster in Sicily, that has hap- 
pened in the history of this world as far back as we can read about it. 

"No one knows the hour or the place where the mountains will slide 
of the sea climb over the land but the earth must not be deprived of its 
geological privileges to build and rebuild, because its crust is inhabited, 
covered, by parasites human or otherwise." 

Dr. Harry Fielding Reid, professor of geological physics at Johns 
Hopkins University, and one of the leading authorities in the United 


States on seismic disturbances, attributes the earthquakes in Southern 
Italy to a general dropping or sinking of the earth in that locality. 

"Southern Italy," said Doctor Reid, "seems to be located in the 
midst of what may be termed earthquake territory. Seismic shocks occur 
there more frequently and at almost regular, perhaps I should say, irreg- 
ular intervals. The whole section of the country seems to be sinking in 
pieces, and I personally think that the shock was due to this general drop- 
ping down of that portion of the earth's surface." 

Professor William H. Brewer, of Yale, believes the earthquake in 
Italy was due to the same conditions as that which caused the San Fran- 
cisco disaster, namely, a fault in the earth's surface. 

He thinks what has been described as the tidal wave was a disturb- 
ance of the water in the Straits of Messina which caused it to recede and 
then to rush back, temporarily engulfing the land which had slipped. 


Prof. Eric Doolittle, of the University of Pennsylvania, explained 
the causes, saying as a prelude that the "firm old earth was firm only by 

"Until twenty years ago," said the professor, "it was believed that the 
core of the earth was a molten ball Darwin demonstrated that this could 
not be so, and it has come to be believed that this core is as hard as steel. 
With this new belief came a new understanding of the causes of earth- 
quakes. It is no longer believed that the lava from a volcano is belched 
from this ball, following the breaking of the crust of the earth. 

"Volcanoes occur in mountainous districts, and mountain chains 
follow the sea. The mountains are regarded as rock formations pressed 
up through the earth by the pressure of the sea upon the earth's surface, 
The mountains, in their pressure upon the substance which supports 
them, develop intense heat at their hidden bases, creating molten masses 
there. When the strain of their weight reaches a certain point balance is 
disturbed and the earthquake results, with perhaps a discharge of this 
molten mass upon the surface of the earth as it seeks a vent. 

"A multitude of elements may cause an earthquake. The sea may 
press upon the earth, the strain of its weigfit falling- finally upon some 


subterranean spot weakened by pressure, and cause a quake in the re- 
distribution of this weight. The sediment which is brought down to the 
sea by rivers is an element to be considered, changing the force of grav- 
ity at the spots at which the deposits are made." 

Perhaps the oddest theory advanced was that of Prof. George J. 
Rupprecht, who wrote: 

"Many opinions of scientists and others have been advanced as to 
the probable cause of the many earthquakes which have shaken up old 
mother earth lately, and especially of Italy's great disaster, but I have 
never seen given one plausible reason or explanation for them yet. 

"I believe I can state one of the most reasonable explanations for 
this spasmodic upheaval of the outer rind of the globe, upon and from 
which we all live, that has been brought forward yet. 


"Our old mother earth is a live lady, in which the secret forces of 
nature are at work incessantly, constantly building up its interior, the 
core of which is believed to be a fiery, molten mass, creating by its in- 
tense heat fluids and gases from the solid part, which are distributed 
through the same solid part in the shape of subterranean rivers and lakes 
in the shape of gas, water and oil; the volcanoes are only natural safety 
valves for the over-accumulation of these products. 

"But within fifty years the noblest parasite on this old mother earth 
man has found a way to tap her bowels and ! take out in steadily in- 
creasing quantities the oil and the gas, to make money out of it. 

"Now if you take say 100,000,000 barrels of oil out of a well in Penn- 
sylvania it is called Pennsylvania oil, but this same oil taken out in this 
State may drain a lane many miles in length, width and height down in 
South America, up in Alaska, over in Italy, or possibly right here under 
one of our big cities. It must come from somewhere and must leave an 
empty space somewhere, which will not be supported by timberwork, as 
is done when the minerals are taken out. 

"As long as the oil or even the gases are in that lane they keep intact 
the equilibrium and everything remains normal, b'ut once empty the dan- 
ger of a collapse down below is here, and no matter how deep inside the 


earth this happens the movement will expand to the surface; if not at 
once, then sometime later on; and this seems to be exactly what hap- 
pened in the cataclysm which visited Italy. 

"Another point in connection with the unlimited abstraction of this 
oil from the earth I will raise right here. Has any one ever ascertained 
yet whether or not this same oil, which is taken in millions of barrels 
yearly from the planet from which we all derive our living, does not form 
an absolute necessity to the life of this same planet, as much necessary, 
perhaps, as blood is to the living parasites on it? 

"Nature points a way to expel the unnecessary water by wells, and 
for the gases it provides volcanic craters; but I have never heard of a 
river of oil, so it seems to me that old mother earth needs it and wants 
to keep it; but as there are "millions in it," the oil men squeeze it our 
never minding about the future." 

With reference to Sicily, it is well to make note of the fact that an 
American volcanologist, Frank Alvord Ferret, has predicted disaster on 
Mount Etna for two years past. Mr. Ferret, who was decorated by the 
Crown of Italy for his splendid service to science and to humanity on Ve- 
suvius in 1906, wrote in the World's Work of November, 1907: "By 
the rational methods of scientific research, we know that a great eruption 
of Mt, Etna is impending, the only uncertainty at present being which 
side of the mountain will break open." Great volcanic eruptions are pre- 
ceded by great earthquakes, and the Messina disaster came on an earth- 
quake date ("terrestrial maximum of gravitational stress") actually 
platted in advance by Mr. Ferret on his diagrams for 1908. 

Like Dr. Omori, he is a man whose whole time is unselfishly de- 
voted to these studies, but he has no observatory and no adequate means 
of support. A few business men in Springfield, Mass., last year came vali- 
antly to his aid, and now their foresight is worthy of all honor. When 
young men think of making science their life-work, it would be well to 
remember Pasteur, and to consider carefully whether the "highest" de- 
velopment of the investigative faculties may not concern itself with hu- 
mane rather than with historical motives. 



'TpHE portions of Southern Italy and Sicily laid waste oy the earth- 
quake, tidal wave and devastation of Mount Etna are not only those 
which have been most sorely afflicted in the past by great convulsions 
of nature, but are those which, for the sake of art, historical interest and 
certain commercial aspects of themselves and the world at large, were 
best worth guarding against destruction. 

The path of the great disaster ripped through the Straits of Messina, 
with Reggio di Calabria as a starting point. These two cities, Messina 
in Sicily and Reggio, her Italian neighbor, were more completely de- 
molished than any others, and from the population of these two were 
most of the thousands of victims of the gigantic death list contributed. 

Gdtania, in Sicily, the most populous city next to Palermo, but in 
reality scarcely more than a wraith of its ancient self, suffered incalculable 
damage from the tidal wave which flanked the earthquake like a solid 
wall rising from the heaving seas. 

Syracuse, once the most important of the Sicilian towns, on the lower 
curve of the bay, was swept by the tidal wave and the devastation in- 
cluded one of the finest of the cathedrals of the country. 

Mount Etna, which disgorged itself steadily all day and poured its 
deadly lava down toward Messina, contributed to the slaughter a more 
vicious eruption than any since 1886. 

Messina, which suffered most under the catastrophe, and which sac- 
rificed more of her inhabitants to the final score of dead and injured, is, 
next to Palermo, the capital, the chief commercial city of Sicily, with 
more than 100,000 inhabitants. 

Including in this count the surrounding country and small suburbs 
adjacent the number is 147,106. 

It is the seat of an appellate court and is an archbishopric, and boasts 
10-ITA, 145 


a university unexcelled elsewhere in Sicily. Its university is situated on 
the Faro, or Stretta de Messina, a promontory due north of the city of 
Messina, which juts into the straits and reaches nearer to Calabria than 
at any other point. 

Directly across from the Promontory de Faro is the great Calabrian 
rock Scylla, over which is the town Scylla. 

This rock and the whirlpool beneath it, both of which are now lost 
under the lashings of the angry seas, formed the direful Scylla of Greek 
mythology, which with the Charybdis of eddies and unbridled currents 
in the straits, were thought by the ancients to be fraught with infinite 
danger. These cross currents have in recent years been greatly tamed, 
and Scylla is a delightful little port with no reminiscent suggestion of her 
quondam horrors. 


On the Sicilian shore of these tumultuous straits is a range of rugged 
peaks. They lend dignity and grandeur to the wide stretches of scenery, 
and are second in all Sicily only to Palermo. 

The harbor of Messina, which is formed by a peninsula in the shape 
of a sickle, was considered one of the best in the world and has an exten- 
sive steamboat traffic. 

In 1899, 2 >446 steamers entered the port, and 2,010 sailing ships, 
though more recently the trade has fallen behind that of Palermo. 
Oranges and lemons are the chief export, and of these more leave Mes- 
sina than are sent from the whole of Italy. Almonds, silk, olive oil and 
wines have been staple exports also. 

Messina was, comparatively speaking, well constructed throughout. 

It had several beautiful streets, chief among which is the Via Gari- 
baldi, named after his memorable invasion of Sicily when Messina was 
his point of attack. 

About the edge of the brilliant harbor runs the Marino, or Corso 
Vittorio Emanuele. 

Parallel to the Marino and the Via Garibalda are the Corso Caour 
and the Via dei Monasteri. 

The original city lay between the torrents of Portaelgni, but it was 


extended north and south under Charles V, and has since incorporated 
within itself the suburbs of Zaera and San Leo. 

Owing to the frequency of attack made upon the city by the warring 
elements about her Messina contains fewer relics of antiquity than any 
other Sicilian city. 

Foremost in its list of attractions was the Cathedral of La Matrice, 
an edifice of the Norman period begun in 1058 and completed under 
Roger II. 

It was damaged by a fire during the obsequies of Conrad IV, and in 
1559 the spire of the campanile was burned. In 1862 the interior was 
modernized, but in 1783 the campanile and transept were overthrown by 
the earthquake, so that but little of this finest of churches was left for 
the devastation of the latest calamity. 

The oldest Norman church in Messina was the Santissima Annun- 
ziata dei Catalani, situated in the small Piazzi de Catalani, upon the site 
of which a temple to Neptune is said once to have stood. 


The city was remarkable particularly for its great number of small 
convents and monasteries. Almost every order in the world was repre- 
sented there by some small house. 

The dismantled fort of Castellacio, situated high above Messina to 
the west, from the tower of which Mount Etna and Catania can be seen, 
is one of the old landmarks of the city. 

Messina lies on the line of contact of the primary and secondary for- 
mations, on which boundary earthquakes between Etna and Vesuvius 
are always most violent. Its vicissitudes number not only terrible strokes 
from natural sources, but political bludgeonings as well. 

It is 2,700 years old, but never in all its history has it had any degree 
of peace. Its earlier years were given over to struggling against the in- 
vasions of the Cumaean pirates, the Saracens and the Normans. 

It was founded by Cumaean pirates and Chalcidians in 732 B. C, and 
was governed by the laws of Charondas. 

At the end of the fifth century B. C., the town was seized by fugitives 
from Samos and Miletus, and soon after fell under the dominion of An- 


axilas, the tyrant of Rhegium, who introduced Messenians from the Pel- 
oponnesus, by whom the name was changed to Messina. The tyrant's 
sons were expelled a few years after his death and the constitution was 

In the great Athenian war with Syracuse the city remained neutral. 

In 396 B. C. the town was destroyed by the Carthaginians but was 
rebuilt a few years later by Dionysius of Syracuse only to fall again into 
the hands of the Carthaginians under Hannibal in 269. 

The first Punic war, however, left the place in the hands of the 
Romans and the place was of importance second only to that of Syracuse 
and Lilybaeum in Sicily during a period of Roman occupation lasting for 
several centuries. 

In 831 A. D. the town was taken by the Saracens, but in 1061 it was 
taken from them by the Normans. 


The city prospered greatly during the Crusades, being a favorite 
rendezvous for soldiers from the Continent en route to the Holy Land. 
In the Middle Ages also it became a flourishing commercial city. 

Its commercial importance disappeared after a bitter struggle be- 
tween the aristocratic faction, or Merli, and the democratic faction, or 
Mavizzi, in 1674. The democratic faction appealed to the French and 
the other to the Spaniards. 

The former faction were at first victorious but eventually were de- 
serted by the French, the city was taken by the Spaniards, and when the 
struggle was over the population was reduced from 120,000 to about a 
tenth of that number. 

The town never fully recovered from this disaster. Whatever re- 
covery was made was neutralized in the eighteenth century by a series 
of disasters. 

In 1740 about 40,000 persons died of the plague, and in 1783 the 
town was almost entirely overthrown by the great earthquake of that 

Great damage was caused by bombardment in September, 1848. 


The cholera carried off no fewer than 16,000 victims in 1854, and earth- 
quakes in 1894 and 1906 also caused loss of life and property. 

In 1860 the town was occupied by Garibaldi. It became a part of 
united Italy the following year. 

In respect to the feature apparently resulting in the greatest loss of 
life the Messina disaster bears a close resemblance to the great earth- 
quake of Lisbon, which, on November i, 1755, laid half the city in ruins 
and caused the death of approximately 40,000 persons. 

Catania, just at the foot of Mount Etna, which is sharing the honors 
between the tidal wave and streaming lava, is the most populous city of 
Sicily except Palermo. 

It is the seat of a bish6p, and a university founded in 1445, which at 
the present time has 1,000 students, the flow 7 er of the intellect of Italy. It 
is situated about the middle of the east coast of Sicily and is one of the 
busiest and most prosperous parts of the island. 


Among other native products of the rich and fertile district about it 
are wine, grain, linseed and almonds, while large natural deposits of sul- 
phur add materially to the wealth of the community. 

Fully 8,000 vessels enter and clear the port annually. Catania is the 
seat of a notable Academy of Natural Sciences, founded in 1823. 

It has taken a prominent part in investigating and developing the 
natural resources of Sicily, particularly has attention been paid to the 
possibility of earthquakes, and every possible research has been made 
that might serve to give warning of impending catastrophe and thus mini- 
mize the damage and loss. 

Catania was founded by the Chalcidians in B. C. 729, and despite 
frequent severe losses from earthquakes, its people at least once in every 
century since have valiantly rebuilt the city, and its prosperity has grown 
rather than diminished, in its more than 2600 years of continuous life. 

Catania has suffered materially from its proximity to Mount Etna. 

In March, 1669, a fearful eruption of the volcano took place, which 
served to give to Catania one of the most interesting of the local folk 


tales which are connected with the many disasters which have over- 
taken it. 

In that catastrophe the Monti Rossi was upheaved, and an arm of 
the lava stream 14 miles in length and 25 feet in width, flowed in the 
direction of the town. The pious inhabitants, however, so the story 
goes, averted its course by extending the veil of St. Agatha toward it, 
in consequence of which the stream took a westerly direction near the 
Benedictine Monastery, and descended into the sea to the southwest of 
the town, partly filling its harbor. 

An earthquake in 1693 wiped out every vestige of the then city and 
affected the whole island. 

Although the scene of a wealth of classic historical and literary 
events, not a single structure in the place antedates the year of this great 


A number of interesting and important ruins have been discovered 
in the city, deep buried by the centuries. 

In the eighteenth century the first of these were made by Prince 
Ignazio Biscari. His collections, which Goethe visited in 1787, are ex- 
hibited in the Museo Biscari, one of the notable sights of Catania, now 
probably reduced to wreckage. 

Among other sights of Catania which attract tourists are a noble 
statue of St. Agatha, on an ancient column, in the Piazza de Martiri; its 
famous antique elephant in lava, bearing an Egyptian obelisque of granite, 
one of the most notable curios of Italy, its history shrouded in mystery. 

The wreck of a cathedral begun in 1091 is also to be seen. The 
building was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake in 1 169. The 
apses and part of one transept alone remain, except for two sarcophagi 
containing the dust of fourteenth century rulers of the Aragonese family. 
A chapel of St. Agatha contains the relics of the saint, who was cruelly 
put to death in the reign of Decius, 252 A. D., by the praetor Quintianus, 
whose overtures she had rejected. Her crown is said to have been pre- 
sented by Richard Coeur de Lion. 

One of these sarcophagi is conveyed through the city during the 


February festival, by men in white robes, accompanied by the SenaOe 
The women on these occasions cover their faces so as to leave but one 
eye visible, and amrse themselves by coquetting with the male population. 

The remains of the Craeco Theatre, which from an interesting feat- 
ure for visitors, are mostly underground, and only portions of it can be 
seen by artificial light. 

The suppressed Benedictine monastery of San Nicola, which was 
transferred from San Nicola d' Arena in 1518, is also one of the most 
charming of the city's attractions to visitors, as is the comparatively 
newer monument to Bellini, which is on the Piazza Stesicoro. 

Across the Messinian straits to Reggio Calabria, so called to dis- 
tinguish it from Reggio neU'Emelia, is one of the prettiest trips in either 
of the two countries, bridging the gulf between Sicily and Italy proper. 

In Reggio the devastation of the latest tragedy has been almost as 
widespread as in Messina, although Reggio is far smaller, and less im- 
portant from the historical and artistic point of view. 


It has been for the most part safely out of the path of the volcanic 
eruptions which have destroyed its Sicilian neighbors, though the earth- 
quakes and tidal waves resultant upon Etna's upheavals have struck Reg- 
gio as hard as the rest. 

This city was originally a Euboean colony. It was peopled in B. 
C. 723 by fugitive Messinians. Rhegium was prosperous early in her ex- 
istence, but suffered young from the hardships of war. 

In 387 B. C. the town was captured and destroyed by Dionysius of 
Syracuse; in 270 B. C. by the Romans. 

In the Middle Ages it suffered a like fate successively at the hands 
of the Goths, the Saracens, the Pisans, Robert Guiscard and the Turks. 

The town was almost wholly rebuilt after the great earthquake of 
1793, the havoc of which is the last at all commensurate with the one 
Reggio is now suffering. 

After 1793 the city presented an oddly modern appearance, alien 
looking among its neighbors who retained more of their relics, through 


their rebuilding processes. Its streets are wide and beautifully kept, and 
its outlying sections are studded with numerous beautiful villas. 

The Reggio Cathedral, a spacious basilica with pillars, dated from 
the seventeenth century. The Capella de Sacramento, to the left of the 
high altar, was richly adorned with colored marbles. On the facade is a 
quotation from the Acts of the Apostles. The wide, straight Piazza del 
Duomo descends from the heart of the city straight to the sea, where 
the ancient baths of the Greek and Roman periods, with exquisite mo- 
saics, and elaborate heating apparatus, have been excavated. 

Adjacent was the interesting Museo Civico, containing fine terra 
cottas, lamps, vases, statuettes, and examples of curious early native art 
with unusual decorations now all probably lost to the world as the 
Alexandrian tomes. 

One of the most interesting works in the collection in the Museo 
Civico was a relief of women dancing of the sixth century B. C., with 
its architectural framework painted black, red and yellow. One of the 
far-famed Laocoon groups was also housed here. 


In the piazza adjoining the railroad station was a fine statue of Gari- 
baldi, under which a military band often played. Back of Reggio rests 
the imposing, forest-clad Aspromonte, due north of which is Scylla. 

The smaller cities which are buried under the streams of lava or 
deluged with the slime and water of the tidal waves all bear the same 
general characteristics of these three cities whose share of the burden 
was heaviest. 

All the small cities in Sicily and Calabria have kept their little quota 
of historical relics jealously guarded against invasion and sacrilege. Each 
has been forced to build over again the homes and streets in which its 
populace joyed. Each has known the same tribulation, learned through 
long sojourn near Etna, the great monster of Southern Italy and Sicily. 

Many of the very small cities were wholly obliterated, particularly 
the tiny coast towns which edge the harbor. 

So much for the historical, topographical and physical features of 
the stricken kingdom. No land is more blessed on the one hand nor 


worse cursed on the other. Yet it is by delving into the personal charac- 
teristics of the people that one best learns to sympathize with them in 
their misfortune and to appreciate their fortitude under circumstances 
that would upset the mental poise of a far more phlegmatic people. 

These personal peculiarities have frequently been commented upon, 
but a repetition of some of the odd things in that land of contrasts may 
not be inappropriate at the present time and in the present connection. 

In traveling about Italy, especially through the stricken regions of 
Sicily and Calabria, says M. J. Reynolds, an American sees a number of 
things which strike him as funny. For instance, an Italian will take his 
wife into the smoking car with him and give her a cigarette to smoke 
in the most unconcerned manner in the world. No car is set aside as a 
smoker, in American fashion, but in certain compartments of the regular 
cars smoking is allowed and in others not; and women sit in the smoking 
compartments as much as in the others. If they did not they would not 
sit anywhere. The small size and crowded condition of Italian cars are 
astonishing to Americans. 


The fact that no trunks are carried free is another surprise. The re- 
sult of the latter regulation is that no one travels with a trunk in Italy. 
He carries, instead, an amount of hand luggage which is appalling; and 
when there is no space left for it in the racks of the compartments, piles 
it up, mountains of it, in the tiny footway which runs between the ends 
of the compartments and the side of the car, until this passage is almost 

There is no drinking water on the cars. At the stations a water 
seller may come by and sell you a glass of water for a cent, but I have 
traveled for hours on a hot summer day without happening to strike a 
water seller at any stop, or being able to get a drink. 

The paucity of things sold on trains or in depots is strange to Amer- 
icans. On the big through trains of the peninsula there are sometimes 
dining cars, from which things can be got. In stricken Sicily these 
usually are lacking. But there are no salesmen either of things to eat or 


to read on the trains; and off the main lines of travel nothing can be 
bought at the depots excepting water and dry bread. 

I have traveled for hours in Sicily and seen nothing else for sale at 
any station. I have seen a city of 60,000 inhabitants in Sicily where there 
was absolutely not one thing either to eat or drink to be had in the station 
or anywhere around it. 

The nearest restaurant was many blocks away, in the business dis- 
trict. One cannot imagine a railroad station in an American city of that 
size which would not be surrounded with eating and drinking places. 

The fact marks one vast point of difference between the Italian and 
American public. All that careless, useless, unnecessary eating and 
drinking which goes on in America of nuts, candy, fruit, sandwiches, ice 
cream, soda water, tea, coffee, beer, and so on, does not exist in Italy. 

The Italian eats when hunger obliges him to eat. It is with the 
greatest rarity that he buys anything to eat simply because it looks nice 
and he thinks it would taste good. 


The amount which the cafe men have to give to induce Italians to 
eat ice cream is astonishing. Italy is full of outdoor cafes chantants in 
summer. A musical programme is given from 8 to n, or longer, and 
everybody passing can hear this, so that the proprietor really furnishes 
free music for the public; and the public stands outside the rail and listens, 
in enormous crowds. 

An amount of space which in New York would cost a prodigious 
sum is filled with chairs and tables which begin to fill early in the even- 
ing by those who want good places. 

The most expensive ices at these places in Naples cost twelve cents, 
and they run down to six. Besides that there are half portions; and 
when a family party conies in of several members, two or three of the 
orders are sure to be half portions. I have seen persons loaded with 
jewels order half portions. For this sum they occupy their chairs the 
whole evening. They never order a second time. 

Thus the ice becomes a function: a regular, established institution, 
a show ticket and a means of enjoying the society of one's fellow men. 


But to the American in Italy in hot weather this whole subject of ice 
cream is a painful one. The American in summer loves to finish his din- 
ner with ice cream. Nothing else comes to "like the benediction that 
follows after prayer." 

It is an astonishing fact that restaurants do not sell ices in Italy. 
If you want ice cream for dessert you must get up and go to a cafe for it 

This is very annoying to an American, largely because of its inane 
lack of sense. The manner of serving ice, and even water, is also annoy- 

The Italian waiter is an admirable fellow, polite and efficient. But 
there is one thing he does not know and never will learn. The first thing 
a waiter does at any decent eating place in the United States, particularly 
in hot weather, is to clap a glass of ice water down in front of you before 
you have said a word. In Italy one orders ice like any other order, and 
it takes as long to get it as a beefsteak. 

Moreover, the waiter immediately carries off the water bottle to fill 
it with fresh water, and you get it back perhaps when your first order is 

There is something funny about tips in Italy. Just as the average 
restaurant tip of the ordinary middle-class multitude in America is ten 
cents, so in Italy it is two cents. This seems very small; but you give 
the same tip to the man who brings you an ice or a glass of beer or a cup 
of coffee, which doesn't seem reasonable. 


New vistas open up in this tip question as one studies the Italians 
and their ways. There is a natural feeling in the human breast that makes 
one dislike to pay more than other people are paying for the same thing 
even when it is less than one would pay at home. 

I determined to pay Italian tips if I could find out what they were. 
I never shall forget the first time I did it. I went to visit a temple of 
Venus in Sicily; an old, old ruin that stood there on its mountain top 
500 years before the Christian era. Part of it is still used as a city jail, 
and the jailer showed me about. 

The jailer was a civil man, and bookish, for I saw a copy of "The 


New Anthropology" lying open on his table, and he was well informed 
in the history of the place he showed. At parting I gave him four cents 
with fear and trembling, reflecting what any city jailer in America would 
do to me if I offered him four cents. 

But the guardian of this classic spot took it and said "Thank you;' 
and there were two of us. 

At the Royal Palace at Genoa there is a perfectly astounding per- 
sonage at the door; the most imposing creature I ever saw except the 
Pope's guard at the Vatican in their crimson uniforms, designed bj 

This Genoa man is a giant, and he wears the most elegant clothes, 
finished off with the most sumptuous tall silk hat. He took my umbrella 
away from me when I went in. All over Italy they take your umbrella 
away from you and you have to pay to get it back I always pay two 
cents, as the Italians do; but I confess when I thought of offering that 
splendid creature two cents the cold chills ran up and down my spine. 

I thought of making it three, but what was the good of three ? Noth- 
ing less than a dollar would go with those clothes. 


So I braced my courage to the sticking point and tipped him the two 
cents, and he not only took it and said "thank you/' but lifted his hat 
and smiled upon me in truly royal fashion. What is one to think of a 
man 6 feet 2, who wears that kmd of clothes, who will do all that for two 
cents ? 

This whole subject of tips is a disagreeable one to the tourist. He 
feels picayunish to be considering these small amounts all the time, yet 
since it is a constant outgo every time he turns around they form an ap- 
preciable item in his expense account. 

He does not wish to be mean, or to be thought mean, yet there is no 
reason why he should pay 100 per cent., not to speak of 400 or 500 per 
cent., more than others pay for exactly the same service. 

If the thing could only be gotten to a business basis, so that on 
going to a hotel of a certain grade and price he would know that on leav- 
ing he would be expected to hand to a designated person or place in a 


designated receptacle a certain sum for the employes, to be divided as 
they saw fit, he and they would know what to expect. 

But this is the last thing on earth they wish to do in Italy. They 
wish to leave it all in uncertainty, so that they may profit by the ignor- 
ance or the generosity of the tourist. Half the time when one asks the 
price of some small service they will reply, with a flourish : "Whatever the 
signor wishes." 

For instance, I had been in the habit of going to a certain convenient 
shoeblack stand in Messina to get my shoes polished. The first time I 
asked the man "How much?" and he replied, with extreme politeness, 
as if it were an affair between princes : "Whatever you wish." I gave him 
4 cents, and continued thereafter to pay that sum. 


After a while I found that nobody in Italy ever gives more than 2 
cents to have his shoes shined. That sort of thing multiplied by every 
hour in the day grows irritating. In museums attendants come up and 
address smiling, pleasant remarks to the tourist, volunteering bits of in- 
formation about any object at which he may be looking. If he answers 
this remark civilly, or answers it at all, it simply means a tip. 

He follows you, keeps up the conversation, and you must pay to be 
rid of him. 

The attendants in the Naples Museum are the most shameless in 
Italy about this. The only way in which one can protect himself is not 
to answer them at all when they speak to him, or to turn on them bluntly 
and say that he wants nothing; neither of which processes is civil nor 

At the Naples Museum I paid one lira to enter, and three lires for a 
catalogue, eighty cents in all. I considered this enough, and proposed 
to pay no more; in consequence of which I was made to feel by the man- 
ner of the attendants that they considered me poor white trash. 

In museums at Rome, as I passed out of rooms in which I had said 
not one word to the attendants or they to me, I have had them jingle the 
money in their pockets at me as a gentle indication that I ought to tip. 

One knows not which to despise in such cases, the system or the 


man. If it is the Government which does not pay its employes enough to 
live, and leaves them to get their salary out of the public in this manner, 
it is a despicable system, and the man is not to blame. 

If the Government does not pay a living wage, then the man lowers 
himself to the level of the beggars who flock every door which tourists 

The system follows one into the churches. Entrance is nominally 
free, but inside various persons follow one about in search of a tip, after 
the style of the museum attendants. 

Certain portions of the church also will be closed, and you have to 
pay some one to unlock the door; or a printed notice will state that this 
can be seen only by "permission" to be had at some distant point; but 
this "permission" always means something slipped in the attendant's 

Of course one may say that these tips are a very small price to pay 
for seeing buildings famous in history and art, which is perfectly true. 
On the other hand, it is because of these buildings that tourists spend an- 
nually millions in Italy, showering a rain of gold upon her railroads, 
hotels and shops. 

Take the tourist business out of Italy and the country would sink in- 
stantly to a poverty and misery undreamed of in her direst straits. 


It would be a distinct convenience to travelers if they would put up 
a sign in the Naples Museum, "Questions Answered, One Cent Each." 

We are a business people. We are willing to pay the regular price 
for anything we want, if we can only find out what it is. But it is wearing 
to feel that one is either covertly smiled at for a greenhorn or cursed for 
a miser with every tip he gives. 

Three times only have I had tips refused in Italy; as it so happened, 
all by women, all in or near Messina, and all tips which were well de- 
served. One was after a long and trying siege of dressmaking in a de- 
partment store. The dressmaker had been most obliging and efficient, 
and at the end I felt like giving her something for herself, aside from 
what I paid the store. Smilingly but most firmly she refused. 


Another time, when exploring the beautiful mountain country that 
lies back of Messina, I followed a path through the vineyards which, in- 
stead of leading me where I expected, conducted me into a peasant's 
backyard. An old woman came out, and with the greatest kindness not 
only directed me to the right path, but went a piece to show me the 

I offered her a tip, but although she was barefoot she would not take 
it. She asked me, instead, where I came from. When I said America, 
her face lit up with pleasure and she said, "Oh, yes, America. I have two 
brothers in Buenos Ayres!" "America" means "Buenos Ayres" to the 
Genoese, and in fact they have almost changed the language of Buenos 
Ayres into Sicilian dialect. 

Another woman whom I met in Genoa, not a peasant woman by any 
means, said to me that she had a relative ill in Montevideo, and asked 
me if there were good doctors there. But this engaging mistiness 
as to American geography can be paralleled in the cultured classes all 
over Europe, including England. 


My third tip refused was during the same long walk, when, warm 
and tired, I spied a little wayside inn, with some seats under the trees. I 
sat down, and a miserable, barefoot little kitchen slavey came out to take 
my order. 

I found they had nothing to sell but wine, which I did not care for, so 
I asked her to bring me a drink of water. When she brought it I offered 
her two cents, and pressed it upon her; but she would take nothing, al- 
though the wages of such a girl cannot be more than a dollar a month, 
aside from her board and lodging. 

Before I leave the tip question I want to tell of one awful escape I 
had in this connection. Down in Trapani, the Sicilian town, where T 
spent six months, they were slowly getting together a museum in an old 
cloister appropriated by the Government for the purpose. 

It was not yet open to the public when I was ready to com* away, 
so I went there one day and sent in word by a workman to whomever 


might be in charge that I was a stranger, about to leave the city, and that 
I would like very much to see what was inside. 

I received permission to enter, and was looking about with much 
interest when a civil-spoken man appeared and began to explain things. 
He showed me all about with the greatest courtesy, while I meanwhile 
was consumed with inward anxiety as to whether I should tip him or not. 
There was no sign to tell me w r ho or what he was. 

He was educated, but then so was the archaeological jailer who took 
my four cents. But I looked this man in the eye, I took his measure and 
decided he was not to be tipped. 

The next day on the street with an Italian acquaintance I noticed my 
museum friend. 

"There," said I, "there's the man who was so nice to me in the mu- 



My companion choked with laughter. 

"I'd have given a dollar," said he, "to have seen you try to tip him 
2 cents. That's Count Pepoli, the founder of the museum." 

Italy would gain friends and lovers also by keeping her beggars off 
the streets. How can any one respect a municipality which saddles off the 
support of its paupers upon strangers and foreigners? And which per- 
mits children to grow up beggars in the face and eyes of the public, beg- 
ging every day at the same place and putting in regular business hours 
at it, while a man or woman stands by and teaches them the trade ? And 
it is all unnecessary. 

There is not a beggar in Milan, Florence or Genoa. Milan and Ge- 
noa are great, modern, industrial and commercial cities. There is more 
prosperity and less poverty there. But there must be poverty in Flor- 
ence, she is neither industrial nor commercial, and she has no beggars. 

Neither do the street salesmen of postal cards and souvenirs make 
nuisances of themselves. They ask you once to buy, and if you refuse 
they say no more. 

Whether this is the natural good manners of the Florentines, or 
whether it is due to city regulations I do not know. In everything con- 


nected with Florence, in all her ways and manners, there is a refinement, 
a self-respect, a dignity and courtesy which give a charm to life. 

The voices of the Florentines are soft and sweet; their manners are 
pleasant and kind; their city is clean and beautiful; their hotels and res- 
taurants good and cheap. And that city is belted and circled with wealth. 
For miles in every direction the great villas are owned by rich Ameri- 
cans, English and Germans, who live there permanently simply because 
it is such a plasant place to live and spend money in. 

Sicily is by no means a bad place for beggars, although nowhere in 
the kingdom is poverty deeper. There is a sort of fierceness of pride 
about the Sicilian which impels him to put up a good front to the world 
in the midst of his starvation. 

In six months in Sicily I never saw a woman barefoot, though one 
can see them every hour in Naples and all along the Riviera, east and 
west of Genoa. 

To the Sicilian's notions it would be indecent for his women folk to 
go barefoot, and somehow or other he will keep them shod. Neither 
did I ever see women in Sicily dragging heavy trucks full of freight, which 
I saw both in Pisa and Como. 


The hotbed of beggary in Italy is Naples, and the beggar's plea in 
Naples is appalling to the American who understands it. The gentleman 
who is "carrying the banner" or "panhandling" in New York, or who 
finds his way up to one's kitchen door in the apartment house, says; 
"Lady, I've lost me job and ain't been able to find no work yet Could 
you let me have ten cents to get a bed to-night ?" 

He makes it appear a temporary and unexpected lapse from the 
working class into the submerged tenth, and submits his plea in a casual, 
off-hand fashion. But the beggar of Naples, usually a woman, says : 

"For the love of God, madam, one cent, one cent, to keep my child 
from starvation!" And she shows you the child, a wizened, awful baby; 
and clasps her hands in misery, and lifts her agonized face in a way that 
banishes sleep that night 

Perhaps it is a cold winter night for winter nights are cold in Na- 


pies and one comes upon her sitting on the cold stone pavement, sleep- 
ing with her head against the stone wall behind, and two or three little 
children huddled around her, sleeping with their heads in her lap, not 
one of them with shawl or wrap. 

She rouses from her lethargy, and after the passerby comes her 
ghastly cry, ''For the love of God, we are starving to death one penny, 
one penny !" so it goes, night and day, in Naples. 

Rome is not so bad, but there the place of the beggars is taken by 
the postal card and souvenir sellers, who almost destroy the pleasure of 
life. They stand in crowds about every point where tourists pass, and 
surround them in gangs with persistent appeals to buy. 

The only recourse is to order them off brutally. A civil refusal to 
buy has no effect. This is all an unnecessary infliction upon the tourist, 
for it does not exist in Florence. 

Venice is almost as bad as Naples for beggary, and, considering its 
size, Pisa is the worst little sink of beggary in Italy. In Venice I en- 
countered beggars who had learned French to beg in just like a guide or 
a courier. But in Pisa there were beggars who had learned English to 
beg in, which is the funniest thing in all Italian baggardom. I had long 
known begging for a profession, but in Pisa it is a learned profession. 




/CONSIDERING that awful blow which fell upon the shores of the 
Messina Strait in the last days of 1908 this thought recurs with ex- 
traordinary persistence : 

Had only Ouida been alive ! 

It is still too soon to tell whether of those now living, working in 
letters, there shall be born some memorable masterpiece as a result of 
this cyclopean tragedy. When Last Island disappeared a pen picture by 
Lafcadio Hearn so marked its going as to assure it in its death such glory 
as might never had come to it living. 

The Martinique eruption is not to be traced by any fine literary mon- 
ument. Had it not been for Gertrude Atherton we would have the same 
to say of San Francisco. Neither Galveston's flood nor Baltimore's fire 
added anything to our store of written art. Shall that be said, too, of 
Sicily and Calabria? Well, to-day we can only wonder, and wait. Had 
Ouida been alive one would hardly have had to wait long. 

For, of all who have written of Italy, in English at least, it is the 
work of Ouida that seems fittest for this case; it is in her pages that we 
find proof after proof that it was her pen that would best have voiced the 
desolation and despair that have come upon the Southern Italian coun- 
tryman. It was she, too, who would most have kept the rest of us won- 
dering as to what her attitude would be upon the generosity the civilized 
world is showing in this stress of her beloved Italy. 

The libraries are full of Italianate work in English, we know that 
well enough There are novels upon novels by Marion Crawford and by 
Henry Harland that come easily enough to the mind; and such books 
as Norma Lorimer's "By the Waters of Sicily" proclaim themselves ob- 
viously enough. 

Only a few years ago, too, Robert Hichens gave us in his story "The 



Call of the Blood/' a study of the Sicilian character, and even of the Sicil- 
ian shore not far from where chaos and death now reign; and no longer 
ago than last year he published a sequel to that, wherein he strayed from 
his villa in Taormina to the Bay of Naples. 

Yet it is neither Hichens, Harland, Hewlett, Crawford, nor the 
rest of those who, in our language, have painted Italy and the Italians 
it is none of these for whom one now longs, seeking the proper voice for 
this emergency; it is for the voice and the pen of Louise de la Ramee 
that this occasion cries. For she alone, of all, had ever in her heart the 
piteous case of the Italian peasant, the Italian country. 

Hewlett paints the peasant and the place, it is true; but he uses both 
as simply decorative subjects for his gorgeous prose; splendid and beau- 
tiful women, strong passions, sumptuous colors hold him; he gives us 
canvases that glow with sunshine and vivid life. Of poverty, oppression, 
or any of the gray, drab things of life, he tells us nothing. Only one told 
us of the bitter lives lived by the country people in those sunny lands; 
that one was Ouida. 


When Ouida was in her last decline at Viareggio the present writer, 
being then in Florence, fell with a new zest to re-reading all those many 
tales of hers which paint Italian life. What a wonderful array it is ! The 
color and the passion splashed on with a vigor and a richness that would 
furnish a dozen of our quotidian successes in the field of fiction; allowing 1 
for exaggeration, for illogic bursts of ill-considered rage, and for all the 
faults her enemies ever accused her of, it is still in the pages of Ouida 
that we must look for, firstly, the best account of social, fashionable life 
in the Anglo Italian colonies of Florence, and, secondly, the real life of 
the Italian peasant. 

In Hewlett it is ever the lust of the eye. In Ouida it is always the 
note of pity. It is true enough that you will not find the Calabrian or 
the Sicilian specified in the pages of Ouida. It is mostly, where she de- 
scends to details, the countryman of Tuscany, of the Abruzzi, or the 

But it is always the Italian countryman for whcrm she fights. 


And what a fight that was! In her novels, in her articles for the 
English reviews, always, for a score of years, she told the tale of Gov- 
ernment and bureaucratic oppression of the peasant, and in innumerable 
ways she tried to swing the world's pity toward that pitiable creature. 

Do you think of the Italian as the happy, singing creatures or sim- 
ply as the prosperous person who sells you bananas on the corner, or as 
the grinning Neapolitan who dives after the pennies you have thrown 
him from your steamer? Well, then do you not know the poverty and 
misery of him; you must re-read your Ouida. 

Was there ever penned, for instance, a more elaborate philippic 
against Government oppression of the Italian peasant than this author's 
novel, "The Waters of Edera ?" Nor, if you would understand what sort 
of creatures in our human family are these now homeless on the shores 
of the Messina Strait, can you do better than read those tender tales, 
"The Silver Christ" and "A Lemon Tree." 

Have we not elsewhere given you pictures of those stricken wretches 
praying and forming processionals amid the ruined streets and lanes? 
You will find their types, to the immediate letter, in any of those early 
stones named. 


She wrote of Tuscany and Umbria, it is true; but, if never before, 
she would have been the first to write equally vividly of these Calabrians 
and Sicilians who now wail and mourn. 

Such of us as know our Italy ever so little know that the Italians 
of the north were wont to look askance upon those of the south. If you 
alleged to an Italian of the north that you found the Italian in America 
by no means the best of citizens; if you referred to the Mafia or the Ca- 
morra, or the like, he simply shrugged his shoulders, and said : 

"Ah, it is those rascals of southerners you mean !" 

As if, for all the world, they were no kin of his at all. Again, in the 
detail of language, you know that the northerner looks down upon the 
southerner; and the Tuscan looks down on all the rest. But, in face of 
this calamity, all Italy is one. The whole nation mourns, Prince and 
peasant alike. Ouida, we cannot but think, would have mourned most 


passionately of all, since it is on the peasants whom she loved, the Italian 
country she adored, that this terrible grief has fallen. 

Here, then, is a curious point. No writer who ever lived in her 
time hated Governments more, more bitterly assailed the plague of mod- 
ernity, and more openly despised America, than Ouida. 

What would she have said had she seen the rest of the world as now, 
led by America, coming to the rescue of the countrymen she most loved? 
Never did she lose a chance to berate those authorities who, in their 
greedy reach for modernization, went about destroying historic places; 
yet here has come the vast destroying hand of Earth herself, ruining far 
more than did those who removed the old centre of Florence, or who 
desecrated the Orti Oricellari, or the Villa d'Este. What would she have 
said to this? 


Governments, Kings, and democracies alike, she loathed, because 
they oppressed and neglected her beloved peasants. To-day she would 
see the greatest Republic in the world hurrying relief to Sicily; a King, 
a Queen, Dukes, Marquises they have all been doing what they could, 
not by sitting at home and writing orders, but there, on the spot, in the 
flesh. Here had been food for Louise de la Ramee's thought. 

How she was wont to rave at those blind municipal authorities whom 
she thought determined to make "a petty maritime Pittsburg" of Venice. 

How she abominated the "contractors, concessionaires, and jerry- 
builders, and bureaucratic thieves and foreign speculators" whom she ac- 
cused of conspiring to ruin her beloved ancient Italy ! 

Yet all that they did is little compared to what has now been done 
by Nature herself, the greatest iconoclast of all. 

She wrote, once, of Ubaldino Peruzzi, whom especially she loathed 
as the foremost of those attempting to Haussmanize old Italy, that "his 
dead hand still directs the scrambling haste" with which historic spots 
are being effaced in order that "a general reign of stucco and shoddy 
may, as far as in them lies, bring the Athens of Italy to a level with some 
third-rate American township." Oh, no, she did not love us Americans, 
nor the things we stood for. 


What, then, would she have said to the spectacle of America voting 
nearly a million dollars to the stricken country; of the nations and the 
individuals of almost all civilization joining in this great relief? Would 
she again have written the grim sentence 

"There is no true compassion in that crowd of opposed yet mixing 
races which, for want of a better word, we call the modern world ?" 

"That crowd of opposed yet mixing races" we can take that title 
to our very selves, to America, and then ask, all the more pointedly, 
would Ouida have still hated us, had she lived to-day, and seen the relief 
we send? 

It was in her lament upon the death of Felice Cavalotti that she 
wrote that poignant line, a matter of ten years ago. She hated this age 
we live in; she was always accusing "the bare, bald, hard temperament" 
of our generation. She called it "an age which is choked to the throat 
in suffocating egotisms and vanities, and bound hard and fast in the liga- 
ments of a preposterous and purblind formalism of exclusive self-adora- 
tion." One cannot but wonder if, seeing what compassion our hard age 
is showing now, she would not have recanted a little. 


And would she not, finally, have written something that the world 
would have cherished? It was she, one recalls, who wrote that wonderful 
appreciation upon Loti's "Book of Pity and of Death" that was itself so 
noble a page in the story of human compassion. For all the lower forms 
of life her pen never tired of serving her passionately and picturesquely. 
All animal life called to her poignantly; all life that was beaten down and 
kept in service; the life of the Italian peasants, as she paints it for us 
time and time again, was like that. 

To-day, when thousands upon thousands of just those lives are 
wrung by disaster that is almost worse than death, surely there would 
have come from Ouida a note to compel attention. 

There must come, too, in these ruined lands, a Risorgimento. Irre- 
vocably gone are countless traces of past centuries; when Messina and 
Reggio come to be built anew shall the spirit of Ubaldino Peruzzi direct 
the work, or is it to be the old Italian spirit of art and architecture? 


Ah, if Ouida were alive to point the way. For, as she herself never 
tired of pointing out, it is the Ruskins the foreigners, in short who 
have ever condemned the destruction of the old historic places; the Ital- 
ians themselves have but too seldom protested. To-day, too, what are 
the only steamship lines refusing to take supplies from America to Italy 
free ? Not those of the forestieri. 

It is as well, from one viewpoint, that Louise de la Ramee died 
when she did. Old and embittered, she might not have survived such 
a calamity; she loved the Italian country people far too well. Sometimes 
one wonders if they know, those country people, just how well she loved 
them. They cannot read those wonderful pages of hers. * * * But we, 
who have read them, know that, had she been in her prime when those 
blows fell on Italy, she would have dipped her pen in blood, in pity, and 
in death, so that we had been the richer. 

And surely, seeing those ships that come to the Italian shores laden 
with compassion and its proofs, she would have withdrawn that word : 

"There is no true compassion in that crowd of oppressed yet mixing 
races which, for want of a better word, we call the modern world." 


A French fleet of a dozen vessels speeding from Toulon to carry 
succor to the massacred Sicilian cities, apparently strikes the Italians with 
more significance than all the other swift aid sent the sufferers, for the 
cable stops in the dolorous recital of the miseries of the scene to explain 
that the ships sailed as if sped by Jove. 

The word probably is meant to remind Italians that when the French 
can show solicitude for Sicilians past memories have become very dim, 
for during more than six hundred years the name Sicilian has been a re- 
minder to the French of about the same sort that Limerick suggests to 
the Irish, though the causes were far different. 

Messina was not the scene of the outbreak of the Sicilian Vespers, 
but, like every other locality in the island, once the massacre of the 
French began the Messinians plied their daggers and wrought their ven- 
geance with the characteristic ferocity of a race made up of Arabs, Mos- 
lems, Saracens and the hot-blooded southrons generally, 


Aside from the Sicilian Vespers, recalling the utter annihilation of 
an invading race, Sicily and its neighboring shores have other vengeful 
memories for the French. It was on the shore just across from Messina, 
in Calabria, that Murat, the "King Joachim" of Napoleonic creation, 
trusting himself to the loyalty of his former subjects, met the ignominious 
fate the Mexicans dealt the Archduke Maximilian, when he, too, fancied 
that his great repute would ingratiate his imperial person to the Spanish 
residue of Mexico. It was in Sicily that the French legions, irresistible 
everywhere else, met the few defeats that signalized the early days of the 
continental conquest. 

Both sides, the Sicilians and the French, retain a long memory on 
the Sicilian Vespers, for when the son of Louis Philippe, the French King, 
inherited an immense estate in the environs of Palermo, his kinsmen, 
the ruling Bourbon, were obliged to see that he was secure by covertly 
installing additional gensdarmes in the vicinity of the Duke d'Aumale's 

When in 1867 Verdi, the Homer of composers, daringly selected the 
massacre as the text of his Exposition opera, "The Sicilian Vespers," the 
musical directors of the French commission were aghast, but the music 
served as a reconciling chord instead of reviving the supposed inveterate 
hate that had rankled for centuries. 


Set forth truthfully, the "Vesper" massacre had nothing to wound 
the sensibilities of the French, for the invading princes of Anjou who held 
the island were not in the least interesting to the French people. They 
had been the "Cobourgs" of France for generations. 

That is, they were bred like rabbits and the stalwart youths seeking 
their fortunes, principally thrones, came presently to figure as monarchs 
from Britain to Jerusalem. 

They were not a lovely race, the Angevine princes, as Shakespeare 
pictures them, to say nothing of the chronicles of the centuries of their 
activities. In Sicily they ruled as interlopers, they modelled their regime 
exactly on the demon system invented by their compatriots in Britain 
to extinguish the soul of the Irish. 


The Sicilians had borne the same excesses that went on in Ireland 
with a patience that argued neither spirit nor resentment on their part, 
when during the spring days of 1282, a scene not unlike the incident that 
forms the modus of "Virginius," suddenly uncovered the flame long 
smouldering among gentle and simple. 

The Anjou King was not even present when the insurrection broke 
out. He held the island under subjection through the threatening of 
forty-two fortresses, the stoutest of them hard by Messina; with these 
stout castles were scattered about mountain gorges, and soldiery could 
signal from end to end of the island in case of need. The great nobles 
who had inherited Sicily from centuries of warrior parents, had been dis- 
possessed of their domains and driven into exile or held in humiliating 

Tax gatherers swarmed through the sunny lands exacting the last 
centessimi, even before the harvests were gathered, for the Angevines in 
Sicily were like their kinsmen in Britain, constantly in need of money. 

Herbert, of Orleans, viceroy of the kingdom for Charles of Anjou, 


held Sardanapalian sway in Palermo, then one of the most magnificent 
capitals of Southern Europe. Guarded by Anjou soldiery, the viceroy 
and his Angevine minions enforced dissolute sway in the capital, treating 
the natives with arrogant disdain. It was when the Sicilians seemed de- 
graded beyond even an aspiration for better things that the spark struck. 
Not far from Palermo near the banks of the sylvan stream Oreto, there 
stood a chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit. It was built in a blooming 
plain and from its porch a wide esplanade wound through exotic shrub- 
bery to the royal palace in the heart of the city. 

On Easter Tuesday of the year 1282, the pious citizenry flocked 
along this vernal highway to and from the Church of the Holy Spirit, It 
seemed an agreeable diversion for the gallants among the Angevine sol- 
diery to mingle among the pious throngs and "skylark" with the damsels 
as they wended demurely with their sweethearts to the Easter festivities. 

One charming damsel, escorted by her fiance, became the object of 
over-obtrusive attentions on the part of the Angevine group. The sweet- 


heart admonished the soldier to behave himself and let the young girl 
alone. The captain of the soldiery, hearing the remonstrance, cried out: 
"The beggarly canaille must be armed, since they dare make answer to a 

Then, as if making search for concealed weapons, the captain 
seized the damsel and thrust his hand into her neckwear. The horrified 
girl sunk to the ground in a swoon, but was caught by her sweetheart, 
who broke out in a frenzied shout: "Let us kill them; kill these French." 

This, it will be noted, is almost a rehearsal of the Roman scene where 
Virginia, attacked by the lictors of Appius Claudius, the father, "caught 
his wittle up and hid it in his gown." 

Armed or unarmed, the mass of the Sicilian youth, who had seen the 
dastard attack swarmed upon the Angevine soldiery and by sheer force of 
numbers killed and were killed, until they exterminated everything bear- 
ing a French insignia. The legion in sight massacred, the Sicilian youth 
made for the church to give the signal. 

They sounded it vengefully until the tocsin was heard far and near 
and understood. Every Sicilian tongue then took up the watchword. 
"Death \o the French," and death it was, for never dreaming that the 
worm cauld turn, the garrisons were helplessly unprepared for an onset 
of such a character. 


Every Sicilian apparently had a dagger; not a soul was seen any- 
where without this weapon. During the long daylight hours the mas- 
sacre went on, neither palace nor barrack was spared. When the palaces 
supposed themselves secure from their massive walls, the assailants scaled 
roofs and came down chimneys, plying the dagger on men, women and 
children without remorse. 

Two thousand dead Ange vines were counted when the slayers had 
time to breathe. 

Then they went to work on the traitors who had aided the foreigner, 
and anyone who couldn't pronounce the word "Ciciri" in the Palermo 
tone was instantly stabbed. 

From Palermo, the "Vesper" signal went like a whirlwind all over 


the island. Massacre was the business of the people until every one 
bearing a French name, or convicted of sympathy with them, was butch- 

The French were extinguished as a dominating power, for though 
the Anjou princes still claimed right to rule by heritage, other pretenders 
found their misfortunes an opportunity, and even though the Sicilians 
rid themselves of the Angevines, they only changed one race of tyrants 
for another. 

Spain laid its hideous hand on the island and for centuries its evil ad- 
ministration made the Angevine interval seem humane and tolerable. To 
this day whenever the traveler enters memorial edifices, ancient con- 
vents, ruined monasteries, the "custode" with many portentous precau- 
tions, uncover relics, which they affirm, come from the great Vesper day. 

Scores of French "voyageurs" have visited the island to describe its 
marvels, and in the pages of all of them there are allusions that prove 
how strangely the memory of the Vespers cling to the consciousness of 
the two races. 


Some of the most eminent of the modern French litterateurs have 
written fascinating volumes on Sicily, but for all this the island and its 
people are the least known of any in Europe. 

In fact, Sicily only comes into public interest or attention when 
"brigands, earthquakes or peculiarly atrocious crimes are recounted. All 
the courts of the Italian kingdom have been unable to bring to justice the 
murder of the marquis banker slain by the Mafia six years ago. 

Even the parliament has been unable to inflict appropriate punish- 
ment on a guilty minister of education convicted of carrying on persist- 
ent "graft" of the most primitively daring nature during his entire 
tenure of ministerial responsibility. 

When convicted, though he had confessed his guilt by flying from 
the country, he was triumphantly re-elected to the assembly and again 
re-elected when again expelled. Though it might seem from the uni- 
versal monumenting of Garibaldi, that the Sicilians were ardent Italian 
patriots, they do not in effect consider themselves part of the northern 


kingdom and this recalcitrancy has been one of the excruciating problems 
of the united state. 

The Mafia has until recently really governed the electorate and the 
dagger has been a potent persuader in persuading majorities for outlaws 
that ought to be in prison or tranquilized by the electric chair! 

Though Goethe, after his tour through the Southern lands wrote, 
"Italy without Sicily leaves no image on the soul, Sicily is the key to 
all," he pictures Messina and Palermo as the sites above all that made de- 
scription vain, for it is impossible to give to words the quality that rep- 
resents the scenic loveliness of a perpetual sunset land. 

While every page of ancient history has something to say of Sicily, 
that land of beauty and delight is least written of by the moderns of all 
the territories that served as a stage for the portentous dramas embalmed 
in Grecian and Roman history, to say nothing of mythology. To all, save 
jthe archaeologists, it is always a surprise to learn that there are more 
remnants of Greek temples on the island of Sicily than in all Greece. 

In fact, from Sicilian soil may be reconstructed more of the archi- 
tectural characteristics of all the early nations than the rest of Europe 
can show. 

For Sicily has been in its time the realm of a conqn~"i n g segment 
of nearly every race since the disruption of the Roman empire. 


Even the "Cliff Dwellers" have left their relics among the Tartarean 
caves of a soil so rich that a harvest a month used to be looked upon as 
normal. Prehistoric builders are represented by cyclopean structures, 
foundations of walls raised by Phoenicean and Carthaginian conquerers, 
temples, theatres and fortresses erected by Greek hands, mingle with 
bridges, aqueducts wrought by Roman engineers. 

Byzantine handiwork, mosques and minarets of the Saracens may 
be studied side by side with the palaces, castles and churches of the Nor- 
man-French conquerors. 

For many a century Sicily was more a battleground of the nations 
than Belgium became during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 


Every known race was at one time or another master of the island, and 
every race has left relics of its tenure. 

To the Greeks the island was a treasure house for food and supplies; 
to the Romans it was a land of loot for grasping pro-consuls, as well as a 
point of vantage for ambitious generals who, holding the territory, could 
force Rome to either fight or submit, to enterprising rebellion. 

During fifteen hundred years the island was looked upon as the 
prize of the strong-handed. The Moslem and Christian disputed the land 
for centuries and almost on the site of the chasm that now represents 
what Messina was, the crusaders from France, Britain and Italy held ren- 
dezvous to set sail against the Paynim. 

When the Greeks of the mainland saved the west from the incursions 
of the Persians at Salamis, a battle was fought at Himera, in Sicily, hardly 
less decisive than the slaughter on the Aegean. For a period the Moslem 
established the dominion of the African Califs on the Sicilian lands. 


One of the most dazzling kingdoms of the middle period between 
the Roman and the renaissance was that of the Normans, founded by 
remnants of the French crusaders. Then, inturn, the land was the sub- 
ject of Sua^ii^ns, Angevins (French), Aragonese, Catalans, Castillians, 
Savoyards, Austrians. 

From the first settlement of the Ionian Greeks at Naxos, near the 
slope of Mount Etna, until the French revolution, Sicily was the prey of 
successive conquerors. Its authentic as well as legendary history reads 
like an endless volume of romance, ensanguined by wholesale slaughters 
either by war or earthquakes. 

But the land is so lovely, the skies such perpetual panoramas of 
beauty, the air so clement, the foliage so luxuriant, that the dwellers for- 
got the ever-impending threat of violent death in the rapturous enjoy- 
ment of the satisfaction of the senses. When the destinies of the Gre- 
cian partria were at stake, it was in the waters of Syracuse that the fright- 
ful naval combat was fought, which Thucydides describes as the greatest 
sea fight the world has ever known. For centuries the "Siceliots" as 
the Sicilians were known in contradistinction to other Greeks, became 


the cultivated people f the world. Their arts, philosophies, sciences, 
their poets and historians, ranked with elder Greece. 

The magnificence of the Siceliot cities rivalled the utmost that 
Athens or Corinth was ever accorded. It was in Sicily that the modern 
Italian tongue arose while the Tuscans were still using the Provencalese 
or langued'Oc. 

In spite of the incomparable greatnesses identified with Sicily, how- 
ever, it is only when some frightful eruption of a volcano or earthquake 
destroys cities that the world is reminded of the mighty men and deeds 
associated with the island. 

During the last decade pleasure steamers from ports in this country 
and Northern Europe have familiarized millions with the coast of Sicily. 

The "conducted" touring parties land at the several show cities, from 
Palermo on the northwest, to Messina in the east, and Syracuse on the 
south, but there are no such volumes written of the country as depict the 
wonderlands of the continent. 


This is all the more remarkable as the tourists, or the bulk of them, 
are generally educated folk who set out with their classic handbooks 
saturated with the mythologies of Greece, know what to seek for when 
they touch the enchanted land. 

A day "off" was considered enough to satisfy the curiosity of the 
"conducted" tourists at Messina, for, unless the minds were filled with 
the dramas of a thousand generations, from the land of St. Paul on his 
way to Athens, to the butcheries of King "Bomba" in 1848, "Messina la 
nobila" presented to the curious eye only another form of the well built 
modern Italian city. 

In fact, the inexpressible grandeur of the scenery, the vine-terraced 
mountains, the purple fumes arising from Etna, the enchantingly grace- 
ful outlines of the four-mile crescent forming the harbor, so eclipsed all 
human work, that the city made little impression. 

Situated right at the water's edge, with no possible means of sea 
defence, Messina was always the first point assaulted by the covetous 
races bent on possessing the key to the Mediterranean. Hence Messina, 


though its site is older than any other southern city, was the most mod- 
ern of the capitals identified with successive races. 

Without the relics of antiquity, Messina possessed only the charm 
of its delicious climate, its gay street life and the bewildering vistas seen 
from the successive parterres of vine-clad loveliness winding skyward. 
There had been relics of Grecian, Saracen, Norman and Roman citadels, 
amphitheatres and what not until the unspeakable Bomba let loose his 
demoniac soldiery in 1848 to put down the insurrectionary forces bent 
upon forming a civilized system on the island. 

Messina's hundred and fifty thousand people were scattered along 
the narrow fringe of land between the foot hills and the curving beach, 
hence the swift destruction that followed the invasion of the "thirty-five 
feet of water" that is described as rising after the few seconds of shock 
that tumbled the walls and slaughtered the sleeping victims. 

Not long ago a very perfect system of seismographic instruments 
were set up along the coast to give warning to threatened cities; the 
mechanism is so ingenious that scientific folk have traveled from far and 
near to watch its astonishing accuracy, its almost supernatural sensitive- 
ness to the slightest vibration anywhere on the island. 

But the experimentation confirms the scientists that the earth is 
always slightly "atremble," hence the destruction is wrought before warn- 
ing can be given. But for that matter, as Messina was swaying and dis- 
integrating within the space of a heart throb, warning would have been 
of small avail. The single edifice in Messina that fixed the attention of 
the studious for its historic associations and antiquity was the cathedral 
of La Matrice, founded by Count Roger, the Norman ruler in 1098. 

All of the ancient parts of the edifice authentically of the past were 
the portals of the facade indescribably enriched by carving in stone, and 
still more celebrated twelfth century mosaics, which were counted un- 
equalled in Italy. 

From far and near the pious wended to La Matrice to lay votive of- 
ferings on the various altars to propitiate Providence in favor of the 
Bailor folk. 



A ZONE of mountains extends along the whole western flank of 
-** the American continent, from the northern to the southern 
extremity. This, from Alaska to Terra del Fnego, is associated 
with volcanoes, though the vents are only locally active, and in 
the majority of cases the craters are either ruinous or have disap- 
peared. In the extreme north, a volcanic belt extends from the 
head of Cook's Inlet on the east through Alaska and over the 
Aleutian Isles towards the district already described. The higher 
mountains, however, so far as is at present known, are not volcanic 
Mount St. Elias, about 18,000 feet, certainly is not. 

The same is probably true of its yet more lofty neighbor, 
Mount Logan, and the other summits near the frontier of British 
and United States territory ; the Alaska coast also, which forms a 
fringe to this region, seems to be free from volcanoes, and the same 
is true of South-eastern Alaska and its islands, with the exception 
of Mount Edgecumbe, an insular volcano which is reported to be 
a basaltic crater about 2855 feet high, and to have been active in 
1796. Eruptions are said to have occurred from Mount Calder 
and other summits on Prince of Wales Island at a slightly earlier 
date ; but these, as Professor I. C. Russell informs us, are as yet 
very imperfectly known. 

The most conspicuous and best-marked belt begins at Cook s 
Inlet on the east, and extends through the Alaskan promontory 
to the Aleutian Islands. It is about a thousand miles long, but 
generally less than forty miles broad. In fact, every volcano in 
it which is known to have been active in historic times can be 
included between two lines on the map of Alaska, twenty-five miles 
apart. Craters in good preservation are numerous, and active 

vents not few, one of which has been alreadynoticed. They occur 
12 ITA. 177 


either close to the sea on the southern border of the mainland r en 

To this statement as to the geographical distribution one 
exception is known ; some small cones, also of basalt, occur near 
St. Michael on the coast of Behring Sea, about seventy miles north 
of the mouth of the Yukon River; but there may be others, for 
at present not much of Alaska has been carefully investigated by 
qualified observers. On Copper River, some two hundred miles to 
the northeast of Cook's Inlet, and thus apparently insulated from 
the Aleutian belt, rises Mount Wrangel, a lofty volcano, which was 
in eruption in 1819 and is still steaming, and others of the neigh- 
boring mountains may have the same origin. 

On the western shore also of this inlet are two fine volcanic 
peaks, Redoute and Iliamna, reported to be about n,oooand 12,000 
feet high. The latter is generally steaming, and a few years ago 
discharged such a quantity of dust r^nd lapilli that the forests were 
killed over hundreds of square miles on the adjacent lowlands. 


From this district to Central America no active vents exist, 
though they were once plentiful. In the Canadian territory to the 
south and east of United States Alaska very little is at present 
known of its volcanic history. There are lava sheets about the 
Fraser River of enormous extent, but Dr. G. M. Dawson did not 
discover here any distinct traces of craters, so that very probably 
this portion of the American continent may be compared with the 
northern side of the Atlantic basin, where discharges anciently 
occurred from Antrim at least as far as Iceland, but now continue 
only in the latter region. 

The Columbia lavas, vast sheets of basalt, have been already 
mentioned ; but here, as in the Fraser River district, cinder cones 
and craters are wanting, and the eruptions probably date from about 
the middle of the Tertiary era. They lie to the east of the Cascade 
Motintains, in which volcanoes have certainly existed, but whether 
any retain their craters does not seem to be as yet ascertained. 
There is a tradition that Mount Baker, a fine peak to the west of 


the main chain and in the northern part of the district (neat 

Pnget Sound), broke out in 1843, but on this point Professor 
Russell is doubtful. 

Mount Rainier, however, a superb peak, not only from its 
elevation, 14,525 feet, but also because it rises practically from 
sea-level, still emits some steam. The highest part is a cone built 
up within the shattered ring of a much older crater, aud the ma- 
terials appear to be basaltic. Mount St. Helens (9,750 feet), also 
detached from the main mass, is said to have been in eruption in 
1841-42, and fumaroles still exist on the slopes. Mount Adams 
(9,570 feet), farther south and rather east of the main range, 
apparently retains a crater. 

On the crest of the Cascade Mountains, in Northwestern 
Oregon, Mount Hood rises to a height of 11,225 ^ eet > an ^ * s noted 
for the beauty of its outline. Portions only of the wall of its summit 
crater now remain, but there are still fumaroles at considerable 
elevations on the northeast and the south sides. Mount Jeffer- 
son (10,200 feet) and the Three Sisters, a little farther south, in 
the Cascade range, are the sites of ancient volcanoes ; but their 
craters apparently have perished, and to the south of these come 
others of less elevation, which for the most part retain craters 
either at their summits or on their flanks, the most important of 
them being Crater Lake or Mount Mazama, which has been 
already described. 


Yet farther south comes the noted mass of Mount Shasta, 
rising to a height of 14,350 feet. The summit crater is ruinous, 
and the slopes are scarred with ravines ; but lava streams have 
flowed down its flank since the Glacial epoch, and a distinct sub- 
sidiary crater remains on a lower summit called Shastina. Far- 
ther south comes a volcanic district named Lassen's Peak from 
its principal summit, which rises to an elevation of 10,437 feet. 
This is crossed from northwest to southeast by a belt of volcanic 
cones about fifty miles long by twenty-five miles wide ; one of 
them, Cinder Cone by name, being remarkably well preserved. 


The crater, as illustrated by Professor Russell, is a double 
;>ne, and there were two distinct periods of eruption. In the ear- 
lier a quantity of ash was ejected and the cinder cone itself was 
formed. Then there was a pause long enough to allow ten feet 
of diatomaceous earth to accumulate on the bed of an adjacent 
lake, and after that came the quiet effusion of a large sheet of 

East of the Sierra Nevada, on the area once occupied by a 
great sheet of water now spoken of as Lake Lahontan, are two 
ancient craters filled with alkaline water. The greater, which 
has an area of about 268 acres, only rises some eighty feet above 
the level of the surrounding country, so that it resembles, though 
on a larger scale, such a crater as the Pulvermaar in the Eifel. 
Geological evidence shows that these were active during the 
existence of Lake Lahontan, and that before they ceased it had 
already begun to dry up. 


In the Mono valley, also east of the Sierra Nevada, but farther 
south, and near to the lake of the same name, are a number of 
craters, some not much elevated above the surrounding country, 
but others rising to over 2000 feet, with lava streams and fuma- 
roles. The materials apparently consist of basalts and varieties 
of andesite ; but the Mono craters, as the line of higher cones is 
called, have ejected rhyolite and even obsidian. Professor Rus- 
sell remarks that those cones (some of which have lost their cra- 
ters), though forming an isolated group, are really a portion of a 
much more extended series of recent eruptions, which follow the 
general coarse of the great belt of branching faults by which the 
eastern face of the Sierra Nevada has been determined. 

The fact that, as a rule, the central cones are the less per- 
fectly preserved and are the older, shows that " the volcanic energy 
early in the history of the range evidently found an avenue of 
escape where [they] now stand, and when the conduits of these 
craters became clogged newer craters were formed, both to the 
north and south, along the same Hue or belt of fracture." 


To the west of the Walisatch Mountains, in the inland basin 
of Utah, and on Ithe area once occupied by the great sheet of 
water designated Lake Bonneville, are the Ice Spring Craters, a 
group of low craters, three of which are very well defined, though 
they are breached by streams of basaltic lava, which covers an 
area of over twelve square miles. Other craters occur in the dis- 
trict, some being older and some newer than Lake Bonneville, 
while others were active during its existence. 

In northern Arizona the San Francisco Mountains are vol- 
canic. The higher summits, which rise to a mean elevation of 
12,562 feet above the sea and about 5700 above the general level of 
the surrounding table-land, consists largely of trachytic lavas and 
have lost their craters ; but around them are numerous small 
craters of basaltic scoria, which often are well preserved and are 
associated with flows of the same rock. Some of these have been 
breached by the lava, which has welled up in their interior and 
has escaped exactly as was described by Scrope in his book on 
The Volcanoes of Central France, In one, however, a ?ake \ 



Just east of the crest of the Rocky Monutains, and in the north- 
west corner of the State of Wyoming, is the far-famed volcanic 
district of the Yellowstone Park and its neighborhood. Craters 
apparently are not common in this region, but the great flows of 
obsidian attracted much attention from geologists. This volcanic 
glass is associated with pumice, the rocks generally being trachytes, 
usually rich in silica. The vents are now extinct, unless a mud 
volcano be regarded as an exception ; but the hot springs and 
geysers to which the Park owes its world-wide fame show that a 
high temperature still prevails, probably at no great depth below 
the surface. 

The vast flows of basalt in the valleys draining to the Snake 
River in Idaho, to which reference has already been made, are on 
the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, but at no very 
great distance from the Yellowstone Park. Also east of 
the Rocky MoiiEtains 5 in the State of Colorado, are several 


very large cones and flows of basalt, while to the south of 
j?ucho the bold summits of the Spanish Peaks, which rise 
respectively to heights of 12,720 and 13,620 feet above the sea, are 
ancient volcanoes ; but in all these the craters seem to have been 
destroyed. The materials are described as trachytes, some varie- 
iies approaching rhyolite. 

Farther south, however, in the State of New Mexico, are 
several extinct volcanoes, some of which retain their craters in 
good preservation. The materials, so far as described, are basalt. 
Mount Taylor (11,390 feet) also is the centre of a volcanic district. 
Its crater has perished, but these remain on some of the smaller 
neighboring cones. The rock apparently is basalt. 

The long peninsula of Lower California may be regarded as 
a prolongation of the chain of the Sierra Nevada. It also con- 
tains many extinct volcanoes, which, however, are at present but 
imperfectly known. Towards the north, according to Professor 
Russell, Mount Santa Catalina rises to a height of some IO,G\JO 
feet, and iabout the middle is a group of volcanic peaks known as 
the Tres Virgines, the highest of which is said to be 7250 feet 
In this group an eruption occurred in 1857, and since then 
steam has been ejected, sometimes in great quantity. 


Those described above, as Professor Russell remarks, are 
only some of the most striking instances among the hundreds of 
lava-flows and craters within the United States ; but it will be 
noticed that the great majority are associated with the second one 
of the three mountain chains which form the western flank of the 
North American continent, the huge eastern mass of the Rocky 
Mountains being almost entirely, and the smaller western one of 
the Coast Range being wholly, free from volcanoes of recent date. 
The Sierra Madre in Mexico, which may be regarded as a pro- 
longation of the Rocky Mountains, appears to exhibit no signs of 
volcanic action. 

Thus a very considerable space separates the volcanoes of the 
part *f Mexico which IJes south of the tropic of Cancer, a region 


of great activity even in the present day, from those of which we 
have been speaking. The former also appear not to lie, as usual, 
along a belt parallel with the western coast, bnt to be rathei 
irregularly distributed over one, about 150 miles in breadth, which 
extends from sea to sea in a general direction from W. N. W. to 
E. N. E. for not much less than 600 miles- 

All the volanoes in Mexico which are still active (ten in 
number according to Reclus) lie south of latitude 22. The most 
northerly of them is Ceboruco (about 7140 feet) on the Pacific 
coast, the centre of a group of ciaters, which was in eruption in 
1870, and has continued steaming ever since. Farther south, 
near the same coast, is Colirna, which has frequently been active. 
In 1885, the dust from it was carried to the northeast for a dis 
tance of 280 miles. 


Proceeding eastwards, and slightly to the south, we comfe to 
Jorullo, the eruption of which, ever since the days of Humboldt, has 
figured so largely in geological text books. This for many years was 
quoted as an example which very strongly supported the elevation 
theory of volcanic cones. It was asserted that here a tract of land 
from three to four miles in extent had almost suddenly swelled up 
like a bladder, while cones were built by discharges from its surface 
and at its sides. This happened on the night of September 29, 1 759 ; 
but, as has been frequently shown, the evidence for this remark- 
able phenomenon is quite untrustworthy. 

Proceeding east, the volcanoes became more lofty. Xinantecatl, 
some forty miles southwest of the city of Mexico, crowned by two 
crater-lakes, rises to about 15,000 feet; but east of that city are 
two giants, Ixtacihuatl to the north, and Popocatepetl to the south. 
The former, which, however, has lost its crater, is hardly less, per- 
haps more, than 16,500 feet ; but Popocatepetl is about 1200 feet 
more than this, and terminates in a crater from which a little 
steam issues. The lower part of the mountain consists of basalt, 
but the great cone is mostly composed of andesite and its summit 
Is described as trachyte. 


Yet farther to the east come Cofre de Perote and Orizaba, 
which also lie on a north and south line ; the former, which is 
composed of hornblende andesite, has lost its crater and is only 
13,552 feet high ; but its companion is the highest volcanic sum. 
mit on the northern continent. The exact measurement is 
uncertain, but it cannot be much, if at all, less than 18,000 feet. 
On the summit are three craters in good preservation, and the 
flanks of the mountain are studded with small cones. Its last 
eruption is said to have occurred in the eighteenth century. 

Finally, on the eastern coast is Tuxtla, reported to be a little 
less than 5000 feet high, which is active from time to time. A 
terrible eruption occurred, after a pause of nearly one hundred 
and twenty years, in March, 1793. A series of violent explosions 
considerably reduced the height of the mountain and scattered 
ashes over a large area. The fine dust was borne by the wind 
about 150 miles to the northwest, and the same distance to the 
southwest. This fact suggests that, as happened to a less extent 
in an eruption of Cotopaxi, part of the dust was shot up into a 
region where an upper stratum of air was moving in a different 
direction from the lower one. 


Still in Mexico, but considerably to the south of tne belt 
described above, and on the shore of the Pacific, is Chacahua, an 
extinct crater, while to the east of it is Pochutla, a volcano which, 
after a very long period of repose, exploded in 1870. 

From Guatemala to Costa Rica is a zone marked by great 
volcanic activity, which follows the line of the Pacific coast. Some 
of the cones on this rise to elevations considerably above 10,000 
feet, but the majority do not exceed 8000. In Guatemala, accord- 
ing to a list given by Professor Russell, there are two active 
volcanoes, four quiescent, and fifteen extinct. Among the last- 
named is Tajamulco, which lays claim, though probably without 
warrant, to an altitude of 18,317 feet. 

In San Salvador five are active, three quiescent, and the same 
number extinct Honduras, which lies chiefly to the east of 


the mountain axis, is without an active volcano, but has two 
quiescent and three extinct. Nicaragua contains four active, eight 
quiescent, five extinct, while in Costa Rica one only can be called 
active, and its last eruption was as long ago as 1726, while two are 
quiescent and six extinct. Lastly, at the northern part of the 
Isthmus of Panama are three mountains of volcanic origin, two 
of them over 11,000 feet high, but it is doubtful whether any one 
retains a remnant of a crater. 

Three of the volcanoes in the above-named list are especially 
interesting, because, like Monte Nuovo, the history of their actual 
birth is recorded. Two of these are in San Salvador, the third in 
Nicaragua. Of the former, Izalco, now rising about 3000 feet 
above the surrounding country and 5000 feet above the sea-level, 
began to be formed in the year 1770. It covers what previously 
was a fine cattle farm. "The occupants on this estate were 
alarmed by subterranean noises and shocks of earthquakes about 
the end of 1769, which continued to increase in loudness and 
strength until the twenty-third of the February following, when the 
earth opened about half a mile from the dwellings on the estate, 
sending out lava, accompanied by fire and smoke." 


The eruption thus begun went on continuously, lava Some- 
times being ejected, but at others only ashes and volcanic bombs, 
and thus the cone has been built up to its present height. No 
lava has been discharged for many years, but ashes and dust, 
mingled with steam, are constantly ejected. There are three 
craters, the central one being the largest and most active. Acid 
vapors also are emitted from fumaroles. Lake Ilopango, which 
possibly occupies an ancient crater, also in San Salvador, wit- 
nessed the beginning of a volcano as lately as the year 1880. 

A violent earthquake in 1879 was accompanied by a rising of 
steam from the lake, and was followed by a steady fall in the level 
of its waters, amounting to about thirty-five feet. Then, during 
the night of January 20, 1880, the surface of the lake was again 
sgiiated, and the next morning a pile of rocks was observed in 


the centre, from which rose a column of vapor. The eruption 
lasted for more than a month, sulphurous vapors were emitted 
copiously, the fish in the lake were killed, and a cone was ulti- 
mately formed about 160 feet above the water, but rising from a 
depth of some 600 feet. 

A new volcano broke out on April n, 1850, in Nicaragua, in 
a district called the Plain of Leon. This is studded with cones, 
of which one at least is active. The commencement of the erup- 
tion was not carefully observed, but the outbreak occurred near 
the base of an extinct crater called Las Pilas. It began with a 
copious discharge of lava. 

This ceased on the fourteenth of the month, and was suc- 
ceeded by a different phase of action, namely, a series of paroxysms 
lasting about three minutes, with intervals of about the same 
length. By these, steam, ashes, and red-hot bombs v/ere shot up 
to a height of several hundred feet, accompanied, it is said, by 
outbursts of flame. Thus in the course of a week a cone was 
built up to a height of from a hundred and fifty to two hundred 
feet, after which the action became much more intermittent. 


Among the older summits of Central America it may suffice 
to mention three, all of which are lofty mountains. Volcan de 
Agua, 12,213 feet, at the time of the Spanish invasion was a 
crater-lake. In the year 1541, after an earthquake, the wall of 
the crater gave way on the northeastern side and the water 
escaped, doing great damage as it rushed down the slope of the 
mountain. Fuego, to the east, with its group of three volcanic 
cones, the highest of which attains to 13,943 feet, was often active 
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and probably for some 
long time previously ; but since then eruptions have been less 
frequent, though one occurred as late as 1860, and steam still 
issues from the crater. 

But the most noted of all is Coseguina, for it was the scene 
of a frightful eruption in the year 1835. So far as is known, this, 
like the famous awakening of Vesuvius in the year 79, put an 


end to a long period of complete repose. It began on the morn- 
ing of January 2Oth, when several loud detonations were heard, 
followed by the ejection of a cloud of inky smoke, through which 
" darted tongues of flame resembling lightning." The cloud 
spread gradually outward, obscuring the sun, while fine dust fell 
from it like rain. This went on for two days, the sand falling 
more arid more thickly and the explosions becoming louder and 

On the third day they reached a maximum and the darkness 
became intense. The quantity of material that fell was so great 
that for leagues around people actually deserted their houses, 
fearing lest their roofs might be crushed in. At Leon, more than 
a hundred miles away, the dust lay several inches deep, and it was 
carried to Jamaica, Vera Cruz and Santa Fe de Bogota, over an 
area of 1500 miles in diameter. The sea also was covered with 
floating masses of pumice for a distance of some fifty leagues. 


During the eruption the height of the cone was considerably 
reduced, but to what extent is not certainly known ; probably by 
at least one half, for it is now a crater four miles in diameter and 
only 3600 feet above the sea. Many of the phenomena during 
this outbreak closely agree with those associated with the first 
eruption of Vesuvius and that of Krakatoa already described. 

The Isthmus of Panama, though its hills in places are com- 
paratively low and without volcanic cones, links together the great 
mountain chains of North and South America. But that of the 
Andes, which extends along the whole western flank of the latter, 
is rather less complicated in structure than the system of the 
former country. It is a single chain, consisting partly of sedi- 
mentary, partly of igneous rocks, old and new, both crystalline 
and volcanic. The sedimentaries and the older igneous form the 
lower part of the great mountain wall, and the volcanoes, gene- 
rally speaking, rise more nearly from its crest than from its 

They are not, however, continuous along the whole chain, but 


form three principal groups those of Colombia and Ecuador in 
the north, those of Bolivia in the centre, and those of Chili in the 
south. About sixty craters are still active ; those which are 
extinct and more or less ruined may be counted by hundreds. 
The first group, in the more northern part, consists of three prin- 
cipal ranges, of which the eastern one branches out at last into 
the great mountains which runs roughly parallel with the border 
of the Caribbean Sea. 

The western range is less elevated than the others, at any 
rate in its more northern part ; the central, on which the volcanoes 
are chiefly situated, supports many lofty peaks. Of these Mesa 
de Herveo, 18,340 feet, retains its ancient crater; Ruiz, 17,189 
feet; Tolima, 18,392 feet; and Huila, 18,701, all show some signs 
of life. An eruption occurred at Purace, 15,425 feet, in 1849, 
when the torrents of mud caused by the rapid melting of the snow 
caused much devastation. Extinct volcanoes are also frequent. 
In the eastern chain no vents are mentioned as active. 


Passing into Ecuador, the volcanic summits, according to Mr. 
Whymper, are grouped along two roughly parallel lines. On the 
western, Cotocachi, Pichincha, Corazon, Illiniza, Carihuairazo, 
and Chimborazo are the most important ; on the eastern, Cayambe, 
Antisana, Sincholagua, Cotopaxi, Altar, and Sangai. Of these 
the majority have lost their craters, including Chimborazo. Altar 
retains one, so does Pichincha, which apparently is hardly extinct, 
while Sangai and Cotopaxi, which has been already described, are 
still active. 

It may suffice to say that the specimens brought back by Mr. 
Whymper were almost without exception varieties of andesite, 
several of them containing hypersthene. Antisana, however, 
also furnished a pitchstone. The volcanic cones, according to 
Reiss and Wolf, continue for some distance to the south of those 
which have been mentioned. 

In the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes we find the second 
linear group of craters. The same arrangement in parallel lines 


to continue, and the highest summit, Hauscan, is said to overtop 
Chimborazo by rather more than 1300 feet. Volcanic cones are 
most frequent in the southern part of the western range, where 
they set in again some 1200 miles from those of Ecuador. Few, 
however, are mentioned as active in historic times ; among then* 
Ubinas, Ornate, Candarave (18,964 feet), are enumerated by 
Reclus. But among the extinct volcanoes some also rise to great 
heights, such as Sara-Sara, Achatayhua, Coro Puna, Ampato, 
Misti, and Chachani, all of which exceed 13,000 feet, the last 
reaching 19,767 feet and Misti 18,504 feet. 

This volcanic group continues into Bolivia, and there are 
some active craters, especially near Lake Titicaca. Presumably 
the higher peaks of this country, five of which are enumerated as 
over 21,000 feet, and the highest, Illimani, reaching 22,350 feet, 
are volcanic, and the last is said to smoke constantly. Altogether, 
sixteen craters are asserted to be active in this second group of 
Andres volcanoes^ of which, at present, our knowledge is rst^er 



Passing on to the third group, the volcanoes of Chili, we find 
these numerous, though, for the most part, they have long ceased 
to be active. In the northern part, however, two at least, Llullai- 
laco (17,061 feet) and Dona Inez are still at work. In the middle 
are the highest summits Aconagua, 22,867 feet; Cerro del 
Mercedario, 22,302 feet; Tupungato, 10,269 feet; San Jose, 
20,000 feet ; and Maipo, 17,657 feet. Of these, Aconagua has 
entirely lost its crater, and Tupungato retains due distinctive trace 
of it, but one or two vents are still active; one about 13,000 feet 
high, lying some twenty miles to the southwest of Tupungato. 
In this part also, according to Mr. FitzGerald, the Andes consist 
of two ranges, of which the western is the watershed ; the other 
supports the highest peaks. There is also a third and eastern 
range, but this is separated from the main chain by a valley only 
about 4000 feet above sea level. 

The rocks brought back by Messrs. FitzGerald and Vines are 
mostly andesitesj the actual summits of Aconagua and Tuptm- 


gato being the hornblende-bearing variety of that rock, though a 
rhyolite or dacite was obtained on the flank of the latter mountain. 
The volcanic line does not completely come to an end with Chili, 
for Corcovado (7510 feet) in the Patagonian Andes is a volcano, 
but though there may be some extinct cones yet farther south, 
v he active vents are not continued to Cape Horn. 



IN no point is there a more remarkable contrast between the phy 
* sical structure of Eastern and Western America than in the 
absence of volcanic phenomena in the former aud their prodigious 
development in the latter. The great valley of the Mississippi 
and its tributaries forms the dividing territory between the vol- 
canic and non-volcanic areas ; so that on crossing the high ridges 
in which the western tributaries of America's greatest river have 
their sources, and to which the name of the " Rocky Mountains >fc 
more properly belongs, we find ourselves in a region which 
throughout the later Tertiary times down almost to the present 
day, has been the scene of volcanic operations on the grandest 
scale ; where lava-floods have been poured over the country through 
thousands ot square miles, and where volcanic cones, vying in 
magnitude with those of Etna, Vesuvius, or Hecla, have estab- 
lished themselves. 

This region, generally known as "The Great Basin," is 
bounded on the west by the " Pacific Range " of mountains, and 
includes portions of New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, 
Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana and Wash- 
ington. To the south it passes into the mountainous region oi 
Mexico, also highly volcanic ; and thence into the ridge of Pan- 
ama and the Andes. It cannot be questioned but that the volcanic 
nature of the Great Basin is due to the same causes which have 
originated the volcanic outbursts of the Andes ; but, from what- 
ever cause, the volcanic forces have here entered upon their sec 
ondary or moribund stage. 

In the Yellowstone Valley, geysers, hot springs and fumarole* 
give evidence of this con dition. In other districts the lava streams 

are so fresh and unweathered as to suggest that they had been 



erupted only a few hundred years ago ; but no active vent or cratei 
is to be found over the whole of this wide region. A few special 
districts only can here be selected by way of illustration of its 
special features in connection with its volcanic history. 

This tract, which is drained by the Colorado river and its 
tributaries, is bounded on the north by the Wahsatch range, and 
extends eastward to the base of the Sierra Nevada, Round its 
margin extensive volcanic tracts are to be found, with numerous 
peaks and truncated cones the ancient craters of eruption of 
which Mount San Francisco is the culminating eminence. 

South of the Wahsatch, and occupying the high plateaux of 
Utah, enormous masses of volcanic products have been spread 
over an area of 9000 square miles, attaining a thickness of 
between 3000 and 4000 feet. The earlier of these great lava- 
floods appear to have been trachytic, but the later basaltic ; and 
in the opinion of Captain Button, who has described them, they 
range in point of time from the Middle Tertiary (Miocene) d< wn 
to comparatively recent times. 


To the south of the high plateaux of Utah are many minoi 
volcanic mountains, now extinct ; and as we descend towards the 
Grand Canon of Colorado we find numerous cinder cones scat- 
tered about at intervals near the cliffs. Extensive lava fields, sur- 
mounted by cinder cones, occupy the plateau on the western side 
of the G r and Canon ; and, according to Button, the great cheets 
of basaltic lava, of very recent age, which occupy many hundred 
square miles of desert, have had their sources in these cones of 

Crossing to the east of the Grand Canon, we find other lava 
floods poured over the country at intervals, surmounted by San 
Francisco a volcanic mountain of the first magnitude which 
reaches an elevation, according to Wheeler, of 12,562 feet above 
the ocean. It has long been extinct, and its summit and flanks 
are covered with snow fields and glaciers. Other parts of Arizona 
are overspread by sheets of basaltic lava, through which old 


"necks" of eruption, formed of more solid lava than the sheets, 
rise occasionally above the surface, and are prominent features in 
the landscape. 

Further to the eastward in New Mexico, and near the margin 
of the volcanic region, is another volcanic mountain little less 
lofty than San Francisco, called Mount Taylor, which, according 
to Dutton, rises to an elevation of 11,390 feet above the ocean, 
and 8200 feet above the general level of the surirninding plateau 
of lava. This mountain, forms the culminating point of a wide 
volcanic tract, over which are distributed numberless vents of 
eruption. Scores of such vents- generally cinder cones are 
visible ir every part of the plateau, and always in a more or less 
dilapidated condition. Mount Taylor is a volcano, with a central 
pipe terminating in a large crater, the wall of which was broken 
down on the east side in the later stage of its history, 


Proceeding westward into California, we are again confronted 
with volcanic phenomena on a stupendous scale. The coast range 
of mountains, which branches off from the Sierra Nevada at 
Mount Pinos, on the south, is terminated near the northern ex* 
tremity of the State by a very lofty mountain of volcanic origin, 
called Mount Shasta, which attains an elevation of 14,511 feet. 
This mountain was first ascended by Clarence King in 1870, and 
although forming, as it were, a portion of the Pacific Coast Range, 
it really rises from the plain in solitary grandeur, its summit 
covered by snow, and originating several fine glaciers. 

The summit of Mount Shasta is a nearly perfect cone, but 
from its northwest side there juts out a large crater-cone just be- 
low the snow line, between which and the main mass of the moun- 
tain their exists a deep depression filled with glacier ice. This 
secondary crater-cone has been named Mount Shastina, and round 
its inner side the stream of glacier ice winds itself, sometimes 
surmounting the rim of the crater, and shooting down masses of 
ice into the great cauldron. 

The leneth of this glacier is about three mile*, and its breadth 

13 ITA. 


about 4000 feet Another very lofty volcanic mountain is Mount 
Rainier, in the Washington territory, consisting of three peaks 
of which the eastern possesses a crater very perfect throughout 
its entire circumfeience. This mountain appears to be formed 
mainly of trachytic matter. Proceeding further north into British 
territory, several volcanic mountains near the Pacific coast are said 
to exhibit evidence of activity. 

Of these may be mentioned Mount Edgecombe, Mount Fair- 
weather, which rises to a height of 14,932 feet ; and Mount St. 
Elias, j ust within the divisional line between British and Russian 
territory, and reaching an altitude of 16,860 feet. This, the loftiest 
of all of the volcanoes of the North American continent, except 
those of Mexico, may be considered as the connecting link in the 
volcanic chain between the continent and the Aleutian Islands. 


Returning to Utah we are brought into contact with phe- 
nomena of special interest, owing to the inter-relations of vol- 
canic and lacrustine conditions which once prevailed over large 
tracts of that territory. The present Great Salt Lake, and the 
smaller neighboring lakes, those called Utah and Sevier, are but 
remnants of an originally far greater expanse of inland water, the 
boundaries of which have been traced out by Mr. C. K. Gilbert, 
and described under the name of Lake Bonneville. 

The waters of this lake appear to have reached their highest 
level at the maximum cold of the Post Pliocene period, when the 
glaciers descended to its margin, and large streams of glacier 
water were poured into it. Eruptions of basaltic lava from suc- 
cessive craters appear to have gone on before, during, and after the 
lacustrine epoch ; and the drying up of the waters over the greater 
extent of their original area, now converted into the Sevier Desert, 
and their concentration into their present comparatively narrow 
basins, appears to have proceeded pari passu with the gradual 
extinction of the volcanic outbursts. 

Two successive epochs of eruption of basalt appears to have 
been clearly established an earlier one of the " Provo Aga," 


when the lava was extruded from the Tabernacle craters, and a 
later epoch, when the eruptions took place from the Ice Spring 
craters. The oldest volcanic rock appears to be rhyolite, which 
peers up in two small hills almost smothered beneath the lake 
deposits. Its eruption was long anterior to the lake period. 

On the other hand, the cessation of the eruptions of the later 
basaltic sheets is evidently an event of such recent date that Mr. 
Gilbert is led to look forward to their resumption at some future, 
but not distant, epoch. As he truly observes, we are not to infer 
that, because the outward manifestations of volcanic action have 
ceased, the internal causes of those manifestations have passed 
away. These are still in operation, and must make themselves 
felt when the internal forces have recovered their exhausted 
energies ; but perhaps not to the same extent as before. 


The tract of country bordering the Snake River in Idaho and 
Washington is remarkable for the vast sheets of plateau-basalt 
with which it is overspread, extending sometimes in one great 
flood farther than the eye can reach, and what is still more 
remarkable, they are often unaccompanied by any visible craters 
or vents of eruption. In Oregon the plateau-basalt is at least 2000 
feet in thickness, and where traversed by the Columbia River it 
reaches a thickness of about 3000 feet. 

The Snake and Columbia rivers are lined by walls of volcanic 
rock, basaltic above, trachytic below, for a distance of, in the 
former, one hundred, in the latter, two hundred, miles. Captain 
Button, in describing the High Plateau of Utah, observes that the 
lavas appear to have welled up in mighty floods without any of 
that explosive violence generally characteristic of volcanic action. 
This extravasated matter has spread over wide fields, deluging the 
surrounding country like a tide in a bay, and overflowing all in- 
equalities. Here also we have evidence of older volcanic cones 
buried beneath seas of lava subsequently extruded. 

The absence or rarity, of volcanic craters or cones of eruption 
in the neighborhood of these great sheets has led American geolo- 


gists to the conclusion that the lavas were in many cases extruded 
from fissures in the earth* s crust rather than from ordinary craters. 
This view is also urged by Sir A. Geikie, who visited the Utah 
region of the Snake River in 1880, and has vividly described 
the impression produced by the sight of these vast fields of 
basaltic lava. 

He says, "We found that the older trachytic lavas of the hills 
fiad been deeply trenched by the lateral valleys and that all these 
valleys had a floor of black basalt that had been poured out as the last 
of the molten material from the now extinct volcanoes. There were 
no visible cones or vents from which these floods of basalt could have 
proceeded. We rode for hours by the margin of a vast plain of basalt 
stretching southward and westward as far as the eye could reach. 
I realized the truth of an assertion made first by Richthofen, that 
our modern volcanoes, such as Vesuvius and J^tn a, present us with 
by no means the grandest type of volcanic action, but rather belong 
to a time of failing activity. Th ere have been periods of tremendous 
volcanic energy, when instead of escaping from a local vent, like 
a Vesuvian cone, the lava has found its way to the surface by 
innumerable fissures opened for it in the solid crust of the globe 
over thousands of square miles." 


The general succession of volcanic events throughout the 
region of Western America appears to have been somewhat as 
follows i 

The earliest volcanic eruptions occurred in the later 
Eocene epoch and were continued into the succeeding Miocene 
stage. These consisted of rocks moderately rich in silica, and are 
grouped under the heads of propylite and andesite. To these 
succeeded during the Pliocene epoch still more highly silicated 
rocks of trachytic type, consisting of sanidine and oligoclase 

Then came eruptions of rhyolite during the later Pliocene 
and Pleistocene epoch ; and lastly, after a period of cessation, 
during which the rocks iust described were greatly eroded, came 


tlie great eruptions of basaltic lava, deluging the plains, winding 
round the cones or plateaux of the older lavas, descending into the 
river valleys and flooding the lake beds, issuing from both vents 
and fissures, and continuing intermittently down almost into the 
present day certainly into the period of man's appearance on 
the scene. 

Thus the volcanic history of Western America corresponds 
remarkably to that of the European regions with which we have 
previously dealt, both as regards the succession of the various 
lavas and the epochs of their eruption. 

The geysers and hot springs of the Yellowstone Park, like 
those in Iceland and New Zealand, are special manifestations of 
volcanic action, generally in its secondary or moribund stage. 
The geysers of the Yellowstone occur on a grand scale ; the 
eruptions are frequent, and the water is projected into the air to a 
height of over 200 feet. Most of these are intermittent, like the 
remarkable one known as Old Faithful, the Castle Geyser, and 
the Giantess Geyser described by Dr. Hayden, which ejects the 
water to a height of 250 feet. 


The geyser waters hold large quantities of silica and sulphur 
in solution, owing to their high temperature under great pressure, 
and these minerals are precipitated upon the cooling of the waters 
in the air, and form circular basins, often gorgeously tinted with 
red and yellow colors. 

In the great Pacific Ocean, the Islands may be referred to two 
classes, distinguished by their elevation into high and low. The 
latter class appear to be entirely of modern formation, the product of 
that accumulation of coral reefs which Flinders and others have 
described in so interesting a manner. The high islands, on the 
contrary, are chiefly volcanic, though in the Friendly and Mar- 
quesa Islands primitive rocks occur, and in the Waohoo porphyry 
and amygdaloid. 

The Mariana or Ladrone Islands constitute a sort of moun- 
tain chain, consisting of a line of active volcanoes, especially 


towards their north, which is parallel to that of the Philippine 
group, whereas the islands that lie detached in the middle of the 
basin, of which these two groups are the boundaries, seem for the 
most part to be extinguished. 

Mr. Ellis, a missionary, has given in a narrative of a Tour 
Through the Hawaii Islands a most detailed account of the active 
volcano of Hawaii. 

The plain over which their way to the mountain lay was a 
vast waste of ancient lava, which he thus describes : "The tract 
of lava resembled in appearance an inland sea, bounded by distant 
mountains. Once it had certainly been in a fluid state, but 
appeared as if it had become suddenly petrified, or turned into a 
glassy stone, while its agitated billows were rolling to and fro. 
Not only were the large swells and hollows distinctly marked, but 
in many places the surface of these billows was covered by a 
smaller ripple, like that observed on the surface of the sea at the 
springing up of a breeze, or the passing currents of air, which pro- 
duce what the sailors call a cats-paw. 


"About 2 P. M. the crater of Kilauea suddenly burst upon our 
view. We expected to have seen a mountain with a broad base 
and rough, indented sides, composed of loose slags, or hardened 
streams of lava, and whose summit would have presented a 
rugged wall of scoria, forming the rim of a mighty cauldron. 
But instead of this, we found ourselves on the edge of a steep 
precipice, with a vast plain before us fifteen or sixteen miles in 
circumference, and sunk from two hundred to four hundred feet 
below its original level. The surface of this plain was uneven, 
and strewed over with huge stones and volcanic rock, and in the 
center of it was the great crater, at the distance of a mile and a 
half from the place where we were standing. We walked on to 
the north end of the ridge, where, the precipice being less steep, a 
descent to the plain below seemed practicable. With all our care, 
we did not reach the bottom without several falls and slight bruisea 

"After walking some distance over the sunken plain, which 


in several places sounded hollow nnder our feet, we at length came 
to the edge of the great crater, where a spectacle sublime, and 
even appalling, presented itself before us. Immediately before us 
yawned an immense gulf, in the form of a crescent, about two 
miles in length, from N. E. to S. W., nearly a mile in width, and 
apparently eight hundred feet deep. The oottom was covered with 
lava, and the S. W, and northern parts of it were one vast flood of 
burning matter ; in a state of terrific ebullition, rolling to and fro 
its * fiery surge' and flaming billows* 


" Fifty-one conical islands of varied form and size, containing 
so many craters, rose either round the edge, or from the surface 
of the burning lake; twenty-two constantly emitted columns of 
grey smoke, or pyramids of brilliant flame ; and several of these 
at the same time vomited from their ignited mouths streams of 
lava, which rolled in blazing torrents down their black indented 
sides, into the boiling mass below. The existence of these conical 
craters led us to conclude that the boiling cauldron of lava before 
us did not form the focus of the volcano; that this mass of melted 
lava was comparatively shallow ; and that the basin in which it 
was contained was separated by a stratum of solid matter from 
the great volcanic abyss, which constantly poured out its melted 
contents through these numerous craters into this upper reservoir. 

"The sides of the gulch before us, although composed of 
different strata of ancient lava, were perpendicular for about four 
hundred feet, and rose from a wide horizontal ledge of solid black 
lava of irregular breadth, but extending completely round, beneath 
this ledge, the sides sloped gradually towards the burning lake, 
which was, as nearly as we could judge, three hundred or four 
hundred feet lower. It was evident that the large crater had been 
recently filled with liquid lava up to this black ledge, and had, by 
some subterraneous canal, emptied itself into the sea or under the 
low land on the shore. 

" The grey, and in some places apparently calcined aides of 
flie great crater before us the fissures which intersected ft 


face of the plain on which we were standing the long banks of 
sulphur on the opposite side of the abyss the vigorous action of 
the numerous small craters on its borders the dense columns of 
vapoi and smoke that rose at the N. and S. end of the plain 
together with the ridge of steep rocks by which it was surrounded, 
rising probably in some places three or four hundred feet in a per- 
pendicular height, presented an immense volcanic panorama, the 
effect of which was greatly augmented by the constant roaring of 
the vast furnaces below, 

"The natives still persist in believing, that the conical craters 
of the mountains are the houses of their gods, where they frequently 
amuse themselves by playing at Konane (a game like draughts); 
that the roaring of the furnaces and the crackling of the flames 
are the music of their dance, and that the red flaming surge is the 
surf in which they play, sportively swimming on the rolling wave. 
Some of their legends may remind us of those that prevailed 
among the Greeks. 


?J Thus one of their kings, who had offended Pele, ^iie princi- 
pal goddess of the volcano, is pursued by her to the shore, where 
leaping into a canoe he paddles out to sea. Pele, perceiving his 
escape, hurls after him huge stones and fragments of rock, which 
fall thickly around, but do not strike the canoe. A number of 
rocks in the sea are shown by the natives, which like the Cyclo- 
pean Islands at the foot of Mount Etna, are said to have been 
those thrown by Pele to sink the boat. 

" This legend is very characteristic of the manners and feel- 
ings of savage life. The kiug is represented as taking little pains 
to secure the escape of anyone but himself, for his mother, wife 
and children are all abandoned without compunction ; his conduct 
to the friend who accompanies him is the only trait which redeems 
his character from the charge of utter selfishness, nor among the 
natives who tell the story, is their praise of the adroitness with 
which he effected his escape, at all less commended on account of 
this desertion of his nearest relations." 


The globe is girdled by a chain of volcanic mountains in a 
state of greater or less activity, which may, perhaps, be considered 
a girdle of safety for the whole world, through which the masses 
of molten matter in a state of high pressure beneath the crust 
find a way of escape ; and thus the structure of the globe is pre- 
served from even greater convulsions than those which from time 
to time take place at various points on its surface. 

This girdle is partly terrestrial, partly submarine ; and com- 
mencing at Mount Erebus, near the Antarctic Pole, ranging 
through South Shetland Isle, Cape Horn, the Andes of South 
America, the Isthmus of Panama, then through Central America 
and Mexico, and the Rocky Mountains to Kamtschatka, the Aleu- 
tian Islands, the Kuriles, the Japanese, the Philippines, New 
Guinea, and New Zealand, reaches the Antartic Circle by the 
Balleny Islands, This girdle sends off branches at several points. 


The linear arrangement of active or dormant volcanic vents 
has been pointed out by Humboldt, Von Buch, Daubeny and other 
writers. The great range of burning mountains of the Andes of 
Chili, Peru, Bolivia, and Mexico, that of the Aleutian Islands of 
Kamtschatka and the Kurile Islands, extending southwards into 
the Philippines, and the branching range of the Sunda Islands 
are well known examples. That of the West Indian Islands, rang- 
ing from Grenada through St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Martinique, 
Dominica, Gaudeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, and St. Eustace, is also 
a remarkable example of the linear arragement of volcanic moun- 
tains. On tracing these ranges on a map of the world it will be 
Dbserved that they are either strings of islands, or lie in proximity 
to the ocean ; and hence the view was naturally entertained by 
some writers that oceanic water, or at any rate that of a large lake 
or sea, was a necessary agent in the production of volcanic 

This view seems to receive further corroboration from the 
fact that the interior portions of the continents and large islands 
such as Australia are destitute of volcanoes in action, with the 


remarkable exceptions of Mounts Kenia and Kilimanjaro in Cen- 
tral Africa, and a few otters. It is also very significant in this 
connection that many of the volcanoes now extinct, or at least 
dormant, both in Europe and Asia, appear to have been in prox- 
imity to sheets of water during the period of activity. 

Thus the old volcanoes of the Hauran, east of the Jordan, 
appear to have been active at the period when the present Jordan 
valley was filled with water to such an extent as to constitute a 
lake two hundred miles in length, but which has now shrunk back 
to within the present limits of the Dead Sea. Again, at the 
period when the extinct volcanoes of Central France were in 
active operation, an extensive lake overspread the tract lying to 
the east of the granitic plateau on which the craters and domes 
are planted, now constituting the rich and fertile plain of Cler- 



Such instances are too significant to allow us to doubt that 
water in some form is very generally connected with volcanic 
operations ; but it does not follow that it was necessary 
to the original formation of volcanic vents, whether linear or 
sporadic. If this were so, the extinct volcanoes of the British 
Isles would still be active, as they are close to the sea-margin, 
and no volcano would now be active which is not near to some 
large sheet of water. 

But Jorullo, one of the great active volcanoes of Mexico, lies 
no less than 120 miles from the ocean, and Cotopaxi, in Ecuador, 
is nearly equally distant. Kilimanjaro ,18,88 1 feet high, and Kenia, 
in the equatorial regions of Central Africa, are about 150 miles 
from the Victoria Nyanza, and a still greater distance from the 
ocean ; and Mount Demavend, in Persia, which rises to an eleva- 
tion of 18,464 feet near the southern shore of the Caspian Sea, a 
volcanic mountain of the first magnitude, is now extinct or 

Such facts as these all tend to show that although water may 
be an accessory of volcanic eruptions, it is not in all cases 
essential : and we are obliged, therefore, to have recourse to som 


ether theory of volcanic action differing from that wtidh would 
attribute it to the access of water to highly heated or molten 
matter within the crust of the earth. 

The view of Leopold von Buch, who considered that the great 
lines of volcanic mountains above referred to rise along the 
borders of rents, or fissures, in the earth's crust, is one which is 
inherently probable, and is in keeping with observation. That 
the crust of the globe is to a remarkable extent fissured and torn 
in all directions is a phenomenon familiar to all field geologists. 
Such rents and fissures are often accompanied by displacement of 
the strata, owing to which the crust lias been vertically elevated 
on one side or lowered on the other^ and such displacements (or 
" faults ") sometimes amount to thousands of feet. 


It is only occasionally; however, that such fractures are 
accompanied by the extrusion of molten matter ; and in the north 
of England and Scotland dykes of igneous rock, such as basalt, 
which run across the country for many miles in nearly straight 
lines, often cut across the faults, and are only rarely coincident 
with them. Nevertheless, it can scarcely be a question that the 
grand chain of volcanic mountains which stretches almost contin- 
uously along the Andes of South America, and northwards through 
Mexico, has been piled up along the line of a system of fissures in 
the fundamental rocks parallel to the coast, though not actually 
coincident therewith. 

The structure and arrangemnt of the Cordilleras of Quito, 
for example, are eminently suggestive of arrangement along lines 
of fissurec As shown by Alexander von Humboldt, the volcanic 
mountains are disposed in two parallel chains, which run side by 
side for a distance of over 500 miles northwards into the State of 
Columbia, and enclose between them the high plains of Quito 
and Lacunga. Along the eastern chain are the great cones of 
El Altar, rising to an elevation of 16,383 feet above the ocean, 
and having an enormous crater apparently dormant or extinct^ 
and covered with snow ; then Cotopaxi, its sides covered with 


snow, and sending forth from its crater several columns of smoke : 
then Guamani and Cayambe (19,000 feet), huge truncated cones 
apparently extinct ; these constitute the eastern chain of volcanic 

The western chain contains even loftier mountains. Here 
we find the gigantic Chimborazo, an extinct volcano whose summit 
is white with snow ; Carihuairazo and Illiniza, a lofty pointed 
peak like the Matterhorn ; Corazon, a snow-clad dome, reaching a 
height of 15,871 feet ; Atacazo and Pichincha, the latter an 
extinct volcano reaching an elevation of 15,920 feet ; such is the 
western chain, remarkable for its straightness, the volcanic cones 
being planted in one grand procession from south to north. This 
rectilinear arrangement of the western chain, only a little less 
conspicuous in the eastern, is very suggestive of a line of fracture 
in the crust beneath. 

And when we contemplate the prodigious quantity of matter 
included within the limits of these colossal domes and their envi- 
ronments, all of which has been extruded from the internal reser- 
voirs, we gain some idea of the manner in which the contracting 
crust disposes of the matter it can no longer contain. 


Between the volcanoes of Quito and those of Peru there is an 
intervening space of fourteen degrees of latitude. This is occupied 
by the Andes, regarding the structure of which we have not 
much information except that at this part of its course it is not 
volcanic. But from Arequipa in Peru, an active volcano, we find a 
new series of volcanic mountains continued southwards through 
Tacora (19,740 feet), then further south the more or less active 
vents of Sajama (22,915 feet), Coquina,Tutupaca,Calama, Atacama, 
Toconado, and others, forming an almost continuous range with 
that part of the desert of Atacama pertaining to Chili. 

Through this country we find the volcanic range appearing 
at intervals ; and still more to the southwards it is doubtless con' 
nected with the volcanoes of Patagonia, north of the Magellan 
Straits, and of Terra del Fuego. Mr. David Forbes considers 


that this great range of volcanic mountains, lying nearly north 
and south, corresponds to a line of fracture lying somewhat to the 
east of the range. 

A similar statement in all probability applies to the systems 
of volcanic mountains of the Aleutian Isles, Kamtschatka, the 
Kuriles, the Philippines, and Sunda Isles. Nor can it be reason- 
ably doubted that the Western American coast line has to a great 
extent been determined, or marked out, by such lines of displace- 
ment ; for, as Darwin has shown, the whole western coast of South 
America, for a distance of between 2000 and 3000 miles south of 
the Equator, has undergone an upward movement in very recent 
times that is, within the period of living marine shells during 
which period the volcanoes have been in activity, 


This chain may also be cited in evidence of volcanic action 
along fissure lines. It connects the volcanoes of Kamtschatka 
with those of Japan, and the linear arrangement is apparent. In 
the former peninsula Erman counted no fewer than thirteen active 
volcanic mountains rising to heights of 12,000 to 15,000 feet above 
the sea. In the chain of the Kuriles Professor John Milne 
counted fifty-two well-defined volcanoes, of which nine, perhaps 
more, are certainly active. 

They are not so high as those of Kamtschatka ; but, on the 
other hand, they rise from very deep oceanic waters, and have 
been probably built up from the sea bottom by successive erup- 
tions of tuff, lava, and ash. According to the view of Professor 
Milne, the volcanoes of the Kurile chain are fast becoming 

Besides the volcanic vents arranged in lines, of which we have 
treated above, there are a large number, both active and extinct, 
which appear to be disposed in groups, or sporadically distributed, 
over various portions of the earth's surface. I say appear to be, 
because this sporadic distribution may really be resolvable (at 
least in some cases) into linear distribution for short distances. 
Thus the Neapolitan Group, which might at first sight seem to 


be arranged around Vesuvius as a centre, really resolves itself 
into a line of active and extinct vents of eruption, ranging across 
Italy from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Adriatic, through Ischia, 
Procida, Monte Nuovo and the Phlegrsean Fields, Vesuvius and 
Mount Vulture. 

Again, the extinct volcanoes of Central France, which appear 
to form an isolated group, indicate, when viewed in detail, a linear 
arrangement ranging from north to south. Another region over 
which extinct craters are distributed lies along the banks of the 
Rhine, above Bonn and the Moselle; a fourth in Hungary; a fifth 
in Asia Minor and Northern Palestine; and a sixth in Central 
Asia around Lake Balkash. These are all continental, and the 
linear distribution is not apparent. 

By far the most extensive regions with sporadically distrib- 
uted volcanic vents, both active and extinct, are those which are 
overspread by the waters of the ocean, where the vents emerge in 
the form of islands. These are to be found in all the great oceans, 
the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian ; but are especially numer- 
ous over the central Pacific region* 


As Kotzebue and subsequently Darwin have pointed out, all 
the islands of the Pacific are either coral-reefs or of volcanic origin ; 
and many of these rise from great depths ; that is to say, from 
depths of 1000 to 2000 fathoms. It is unnecessary here to attempt 
to enumerate all these islands which rise in solitary grandeur 
from the surface of the ocean, and are the scenes of volcanic opera- 
tions ; a few may, however, be enumerated. 

In the Atlantic, Iceland first claims notice, owing to the mag- 
nitude and number of its active vents and the variety of the accom- 
panying phenomena, especially the geysers. As Lyell has 
observed, with the exception of Etna and Vesuvius, the most com- 
plete chronological records of a series of eruptions in existence 
are those of Iceland, which come down from the ninth century of 
our era, and which go to show that since the twelfth century there 
has never been an interval of more than forty years without either 


an eruption or a great earthquake. So intense is the volcanic 
energy in this island that some of the eruptions of Hecla have 
lasted six years without cessation. 

Earthquakes have often shaken the whole island at once, 
causing great changes in the interior, such as the sinking down 
of hills, the rending of mountains, and the desertion by rivers of 
their channels, and the appearance of new lakes. New islands 
have often been thrown up near the coast, while others have dis- 
appeared. In the intervals between eruptions, innumerable hot 
springs afford vent to the subterranean heat, and solfataras dis- 
charge copious streams of inflammable matter. The volcanoes in 
different parts of the island are observed, like those of the Phle- 
grsean Fields, to be in activity by turns, one vent serving for a 
time as a safety-valve for the others, 


The most memorable eruption of recent years was that of 
Skapta Jokul in 1783, when a new island was thrown up, and two 
torrents of lava issued forth, one forty-five and the other fifty 
miles in length, and which, according to the estimate of Professor 
Bischoff, contained matter surpassing in magnitude the bulk of 
Mont Blanc. One of these streams filled up a large lake, and 
entering the channel of the Skapta, completely dried up the river. 
The volcanoes of Iceland may be considered as safety-valves 
to the region in which lie the British Isles. 

This group of volcanic isles rises from deep Atlantic waters 
north of the Equator, and the vents of eruption are partially active, 
partially dormant, or extinct. It must be supposed, however, that 
at a former period volcanic action was vastly more energetic than 
at present ; for except at the Grand Canary, Gomera, Forta Ven- 
tura, and Lancerote, where various non-volcanic rocks are found 
these islands appear to have been built up from their foundations 
of eruptive materials. 

The highest point in the Azores is the Peak of Pico, which 
rises to a height of 7016 feet above the ocean. But this great ele- 
vation is surpassed by that of the Peak of Teneriffe (or Pic de 


Teyde) in the Canaries, which attains to an elevation of 12,225 
feet, as determined by Professor Piazzi Smyth. 

This great volcanic cone, rising from the ocean, its summit 
shrouded in snow, and often protruding above the clouds, must be 
an object of uncommon beauty and interest when seen from the 
deck of a ship. The central cone, formed of trachyte, pumice, 
obsidian and ashes, rises out of a vast cauldron of older balsaltic 
rocks with precipitous inner walls much as the cone of Vesuvius 
rises from within the partially encircling walls of Somma. From 
the summit issue forth sulphurous vapors, but no flame. 


Piazzi Smyth, who during a prolonged vist to this mountain 
in 1856 made a careful survey of its form and structure, shows 
that the great cone is surrounded by an outer ring of basalt 
enclosing two foci of eruption, the lavas from which have broken 
through the ring of the outer crater on the western side, and have 
poured down the mountain. At the top of the peak its once active 
crater is filled up, and we find a convex surface ("The Plain of 
Rambleta") surmounted towards its eastern end by a diminutive 
cone, 500 feet high, called " Humboldt's Ash Cone." The slope 
of the great cone of Tenerifie ranges from 28 to 38; and below a 
level of 7000 feet the general slope of the whole mountain down to 
the water's edge varies from 10 to 12 from the horizontal. The 
great cone is penetrated by numerous basaltic dykes. 

The Cape de Verde Islands, which contain beds of limestone 
along with volcanic matter, possess in the island of Fuego an 
active volcano, rising to a height of 7000 feet above the surface of 
the ocean. The central cone, like that of Teneriffe, rises from 
within an outer crater, formed of basalt alternating with beds of 
agglomerate, and traversed by numerous dykes of lava. This has 
been broken down on one side like that of Somma ; and over its 
flanks are scattered numerous cones of scoria, the most recent 
dating from the years 1785 and 1799. 




[The following accurate and scientific account of ihe causes and 
effects of volcanoes and earthquakes is furnished by the most eminent 
authority on these subjects known to the world, and is of special interest in 
connection with the great disasters 

T PURPOSE to say something about volcanoes and earthquakes. 
* It is a subject I have thought a good deal about, and though I 
have never been so fortunate as to have been shaken out of my 
bed by an earthquake, still I have climbed the cones of Vesuvius 
and Etna, hammer in hand and barometer on back, and have wan- 
dered over and geologized among, I believe, nearly all the principal 
scenes of extinct volcanic activity in Europe. 

Every one knows that a volcano is a mountain that vomits 
out fire, and smoke, and cinders, and melted lava, and sulphur, and 
steam, and gases, and all kinds of horrible things; nay, even 
sometimes mud, and boiling water, and fishes ; and everybody 
has heard or read of the earth opening, and swallowing up man 
and beast, and houses and churches ; and closing on them with a 
snap, and smashing them to pieces ; and then perhaps opening 
again, and casting them out with a flood of dirty water from some 
river or lake that has been gulped down with them. Now, all 
this, and much more, is literally true, and has happened over and 
over again ; and when we have imagined it all, we shall have 
formed a tolerably correct notion of some at least of these 




And perhaps some may have been tempted to ask why and 
how it is that God has permitted this fair earth to be visited with 
such destruction. It can hardly be for the sins of men : for when 
these things occur they involve alike the innocent and the guilty ; 
and besides , the volcano and the earthquake were raging on this 
earth with as much, nay greater violence, thousands and thou- 
sands of years before man set foot upon it. But perhaps, on the 
other hand, it may have occurred to some to ask themselves 
whether it is not just possible that these ugly affairs are sent 
among us for some beneficent purposes ; or at all events that they 
may form part and parcel of some great scheme of providential 
arrangement which is at work for good and not for ill. 


A ship sometimes strikes on a rock, and all on board perish ; 
a railway train runs into another, or breaks down, and then wounds 
and contusions are the order of the day ; but nobody doubts that 
navigation and railway communication are great blessings. None 
of the great natural provisions for producing good are exempt in 
their workings from producing occasional mischief. Storms 
disperse and dilute pestilental vapors, and lightnings decompose 
and destroy them ; but both the one and the other often annihilate 
the works of man, and inflict upon him sudden death. 

Well, then, I think I shall be able to show that the volcano 
and the earthquake, dreadful as they are, as local and temporary 
visitations, are in fact unavoidable (I had almost said necessary) 
incidents in a vast system of action to which we owe the very 
ground we stand upon, the very land we inhabit, without which 
neither man, beast, nor bird would have a place for their existence, 
and the world would be the habitation of nothing but fishes. 

NoWj to make this clear, I must go a little out of my way 
and say something about the first principles of geology. Geology 
does not pretend to go back to the creation of the world, or concern 
itself about its primitive state, but it does concern itself with the 
changes it sees going on in it now, and with the evidence of a long 
of such changes it can produce in the most unmistakable 


features of the structure of our rocks and soil, and the way in 
which they lie one on the other. 

As to what we see going on, We see everywhere, and along 
every coast-line, the sea warring against the land, and everywhere 
overcoming it ; wearing and eating it down, and battering it to 
pieces ; grinding those pieces to powder ; carrying the powder 
away, and spreading it out over its own bottom, by the continued 
effect of the tides and currents. Look at our chalk cliffs, which 
once, no doubt, extended across the Channel to the similar cliffs 
on the French coast. 

What do we see ? Precipices cut down to the sea-beach, 
constantly hammered by the waves and constantly crumbling : 
the beach itself made of the flints outstanding after the softer 
chalk had been ground down and washed away ; themselves 
grinding one onother under the same ceaseless discipline ; first 
rounded into pebbles, then worn into sand, and then carried out 
farther and farther down the slope, to be replaced by fresh ones 
from the same source. 


Well, the same thing is going on everywhere, round every 
coast of Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Foot by foot or inch 
by inch, month by month or century by century, down every- 
thing must go. Time is as nothing in geology. And what the 
sea is doing the river is helping it to do. Look at the sand-banks 
at the mouth of the Thames. What are they but the materials of 
our island carried out to sea by the stream ? The Ganges carries 
away from the soil of India, and delivers into the sea, twice as 
much solid substance weekly as is contained in the great pyramid 
of Egypt. The Irawaddy sweeps off from Burmah sixty-two cubic 
feet of earth in every second of time on an average, and there are 
86,400 seconds in every day, and 365 days in every year ; and so 
on for the other rivers. 

What has become of all that great bed of chalk which once 
covered all the weald of Kent, and formed a continuous mass from 
Ramsgate and Dover to Beechy Head running inland to Madams- 


court Hill and Seven Oaks ? All clean gone, and swept out into 
the bosom of the Atlantic, and there forming other chalk-beds. 
Now, geology assures us, on the most conclusive and undeniable 
evidence, that all our present land, all our continents and islands 
have been formed in this way out of the ruins of fenner ones. The 
old ones which existed at the beginning of things have all per- 
ished, and what we now stand upon has most assuredly been, at 
one time or other, perhaps many times, the bottom of the sea. 

Well, then, there is power enough at work, and it has been 
at work long enough utterly to have cleared away and spread over 
the bed of the sea all our present existing continents and islands, 
had they been placed where they are at the creation of the world ; 
and from this it follows as clear as demonstration can make it, 
that without some process of renovation and restoration to act in 
antagonism to this destructive work of old Neptune, there would 
not now be remaining a foot of dry land for living thing to stand 



Now, what is this process of restoration ? Let the volcano 
and the earthquake tell their tale. Let the earthquake tell how, 
within the memory of man under the eyesight of eye-witnesses, 
one of whom (Mrs. Graham) has described the fact the whole 
coast line of Chili, for one hundred miles about Valparaiso, with 
the mighty chain of the Andes mountains to which the Alps 
sink into insignificance was hoisted at one blow (in a single 
night, Nov. 19, A. D. 1822) from two to seven feet above its former 
level, leaving the beach below the old water mark high and dry ; 
leaving the shell-fish sticking on the rocks out of reach of water * 
leaving the seaweed rotting in the air, or rather drying up to dust 
under the burning sun of a coast where rain never falls. 

The ancients had a fable of Titan hurled from heaven and 
buried under Etna, and by his struggles causing the earthquakes 
that desolated Sicily. But here we have an exhibition of Titanic 
forces on a far mightier scale. One of the Andes upheaved on 
this occasion was the gigantic mass of Aconagva, which overlooks 
Valparaiso. To bring home to the miud the conception of such 


an effort, we must form a clear idea of what sort of mountain this 
is. It is nearly 24,000 feet in height. 

Chimborazo, the loftiest of the volcanic cones of the Andes, 
is lower by 2,500 feet ; and yet Etna, with Vesuvius at the top of 
it, a^d another Vesuvius piled on that, would little more than 
surpass the midway portion of the snow-covered portion of that 
cone, which is one of the many chimneys by which the hidden 
fires of the Andes fine vent. On the occasion I am speaking of, 
at least ten thousand square miles of country were estimated as 
having been upheaved, and the upheaval was not confined to the 
land, but extended far away to sea, which was proved by the 
soundings off Valparaiso and along the coast, having been found 
considerably shallower than they were before the shock. 

Again, in the year 1819, in an earthquake in India, in the dis- 
trict of Cutch, bordering on the Indus, a tract of country more 
than fifty miles long and sixteen broad was suddenly raised ten 
feet above its former level. The raised portion still stands up 
above the unraised like a long perpendicular wall, which is known 
by the name of the "Ullah Bund," or "God's Wall.'' 


And again, in 1538, in that convulsion which threw up the 
Monte Nuovo (New Mountain), a cone of ashes 450 feet high, in 
a single night ; the whole coast of Pozzuoli, near Naples, was 
raised twenty feet above its former level, and remains so perma- 
nently upheaved to this day. And I could mention innumerable 
other instances of the same kind. 

This, then, is the manner in which the earthquake does its 
work ; and it is always at work. Somewhere or other in the world, 
there is perhaps not a day, certainly not a month, without an 
earthquake. In those districts of South and Central America, 
where the great chain of volcanic cones is situated Chimborazo, 
Cotopaxi, and a long list with names unmentionable, or at least 
unpronounceable the inhabitants no more think of counting earth- 
quake shocks than we do of counting showers of rain. 

Indeed, in some places along the coast, a shower is a greater 


rarity c Even in our own island, near Perth, a year seldom passes 
without a shock, happily, within the records of history, never 
powerful enough to do any mischief. 

It is not everywhere that this process goes on by fits and 
starts. For instance, the northern gulfs, and borders of the 
Baltic Sea, are steadily shallowing ; and the whole mass of Scan- 
dinavia including Norway, Sweden and Lapland, is rising out of 
the sea at the average rate of about two feet per century. But as 
this fact (which is perfectly well established by reference to 
ancient high and low water marks) is not so evidently connected 
with the action of earthquakes, I shall not refer to it just now. 

All that I want to show is, that there is a great cycle of 
changes going on, in v/hich the earthquake and volcano act a very 
conspicuous part, and that part a restorative and conservative 
one ; in opposition to the steadily destructive and leveling action 
of the ocean waters. 


How this can happen ; what can be the origin of such an 
enormous power thus occasionally exerting itself, will no doubt 
seem very marvelous little short, indeed, of miraculous inter 
vention but the mystery, after all, is not quite so great as at first 
seems. We are permitted to look a little way into these great 
secrets ; not far enough, indeed, to clear up every difficulty, but 
quite enough to penetrate us with admiration of that wonderful 
system of counterbalances and compensations ; that adjustment 
of causes and consequences, by which, throughout all nature, 
evils are made to work their own cure ; life to spring out of death ; 
and renovation to tread in the steps and efface the vestiges of 

The key to the whole affair is to be found in the central heat 
of the earth. This is no scientific dream, no theoretical notion, 
but a fact established by direct evidence up to a certain point, and 
standing out from plain facts as a matter of unavoidable conclu- 
sion, in a hundred ways. 

We all know that when we go into a cellar out of a summer 


sun it feels cool ; but when we go into it out of a wintry frost it 
is warm. The fact is, that a cellar, or a well, or any pit of a 
moderate depth, has always, day and night, summer and winter, 
the same degree of warmth, the same temperature, as it is called ; 
and that always and everywhere is the same, or nearly the same, 
as the average warmth of the climate of the place. Forty or fifty 
feet deep in the ground, the thermometer here in this spot, would 
always mark the same degree, 49, that is, or seventeen degrees 
above the freezing point. Under the equator, at the same depth, 
it always stands at 84, which is our hot summer heat, but which 
there is the average heat of the whole year. 

And this is so everywhere. Just at the surface, or a few 
inches below it, the ground is warm in the daytime, cool at night ; 
at two or three feet deep the difference of day and night is hardly 
perceptible, but that of summer and winter is considerable. But 
at forty or fifty feet this difference also disappears, and you find a 
perfectly fixed, uniform degree of warmth, day and night ; summer 
and winter ; year after year. 


But when we go deeper, as, for instance, down into mines 
or coal-pits, this one broad and general fact is always observed 
everywhere, in all countries, in all latitudes, in all climateSj 
wherever there are mines, or deep subterranean caves the deeper 
you go, the hotter the earth is found to be. In one and the same 
mine, each particular depth has its own particular degree of heat, 
which never varies : but the lower always the hotter ; and that not 
by a trifling, but what may well be called an astonishingly rapid 
rate of increase about a degree of the thermometer additional 
warmth for every 90 feet of additional depth, which is about 58 
per mile ! so that, if we had a shaft sunk a mile deep, we should 
find in the rock a heat of 105, which is much hotter than the 
hottest summer day ever experienced 

It is not everywhere, however, that it is worth while to sink a 
shaft to any great depth ; but borings for water (in what are 
called Artesian wells) are often made to ruonnous depths, and tlui 


water always comes up hat ; and the deeper the boring, the hotter 
the water. There is a very famous boring of this sort in Paris, at 
La Crenelle. The water rises from a depth of 1794 feet, and its 
temperature is 82 of our scale, which is almost that of the 
equator. And, again, at Salzwerth, in Oeynhausen, in Germany, 
in a boring for salt springs 2144 feet deep t the salt water comes 
up with with a still higher heat, viz., 91, 

Then, again, we have natural hot water springs, which rise, 
it is true, from depths we have no means of ascertaining ; but 
which, from the earliest recorded times, have always maintained 
the same heat. At Bath, for instance, the hottest well is 117 
Fahr. On the Arkansas River, in the United States, is a spring 
of 1 80. which is scalding hot ; and that out of the ^neighborhood 
of any volcano, 


Now, only consider what sort of a conclusion this lands us in. 
This globe of ours is 8000 miles in diameter ; a mile deep on its 
surface is a mere scratch. If a man had twenty greatcoats on, 
and I found under the first a warmth of 60 a.bove the external 
air, I should expect to find 60 more under the second, and 60 more 
under the third, and so on ; and, within all, no man, but a mass of 
red-hot iron. 

Just so with the outside crust of the earth. Every mile thick 
is such a greatcoat, and at twenty miles depth, according to this 
rate, the ground must be fully red-hot ; and at no such very great 
depth beyond, either the whole must be melted, or only the most 
infusible and intractable kinds of material, such as our fireclays 
and flints, would present some degree of solidity. 

In short, what the icefloes and icebergs are to the polar seas, 
so we shall come to regard our continents and mountain-ranges 
in relation to the ocean of melted matter beneath. I do not mean 
to say there is no solid central mass ; there may be one, or there 
may not, and, upon the whole, I think it likely enough that there 
is kept solid, in spite of the heat, by the enormous pressure 9 
but that has nothing to do with the present argument 


All that I contend for is this Grant me a sea of liquid fire, 
on which we are all floating land and sea ; for the bottom of the 
sea anyhow will not come nearly down to the lava level. The sea is 
probably nowhere more than five or six miles deep, v/hich is far 
enough above that level to keep its bed from becoming red-hot. 

Well, now, the land is perpetually wearing down, and the 
materials being carried out to sea. The coat of heavier matter is 
thinning off towards the land, aud thickening over all the bed of the 
sea. What must happen ? If a ship float even on her keel, trans- 
fer weight from the starboard to her larboard side, will she con- 
tinue to float even ? No, certainly. Slie \vill heel over to larboard. 
Many a good ship has goue to the bottom in this way. If the 
continents be lightened, they will rise ; if the bed of the sea receive 
additional weight, it will sink, 


The bottom of the Pacific is sinking, in point of fact. Not 
that the Pacific is becoming deeper. This seems a paradox ; but 
it is easily explained. The whole bed of the sea is in the act of 
being pressed down by the laying on of new solid substance over 
its bottom. The new bottom then is laid upon the old, and so the 
actual bed of the ocean remains at or nearly at the same distance 
from the surface water. But what becomes of the islands ? They 
form part and parcel of the old bottom ; and Dr. Darwin has 
shown, by the most curious and convincing proofs, that they are 
sinking, and have beeu sinking for ages, and are only kept above 
water by what, think you? By the labors of the coral insects, 
which always build up to the surface ! 

It is impossible but that this increase of pressure in some 
places and relief in others must be very unequal in their bearings. 
So that at some place or other this solid floating crust must be 
brought into a state of strain, and if there be a weak or soft p * ,, 
a crack will at last take place. When this happens, down gees 
the land on the heavy side and up on the light side. Now this is 
exactly what took place in the earthquake which raised the Ullab 
Bund m Cute!? L, 


I have told you of a great crack drawn across the country, not 
far from the coast line ; the island country rose ten feet, but much 
of the sea-coast, and probably a large tract in the bed of the Indian 
Ocean, sank considerably below its former level. And just as you 
see when a crack takes place in ice, the water oozes up ; so this 
kind of thing is always, or almost always, followed by an upburst 
of the subterranean fiery matter. The earthquake of Cutch was 
terminated by the outbreak of a volcano at the town of Bhooi, which 
it destroyed. 

Now where, following out this idea, should we naturally 
expect such cracks and outbreaks to happen ? Why, of course, 
along those lines where the relief of pressure on the land side is 
the greatest, and also its increase on the sea side ; that is to say, 
along or in the neighborhood of the sea-coasts, where the destruc- 
tion of the land is going on with most activity. 


Well, now, it is a remarkable fact in the history of volcanoes, 
that there is hardly an instance of an active volcano at any con- 
siderable distance from the sea cost. All the great volcanic chain 
of the Andes is close to the western coast line of America. Etna 
is close to the sea ; so is Vesuvius ; Teneriffe is very near the 
African coast ; Mount Erebus is on the edge of the great Antartic 

Out of 225 volcanoes which are known to be in actual eruption 
over the whole earth within the last 150 years, I remember only 
a single instance of one more than 320 miles from the sea, and 
that is on the f,dge of the Caspian, the largest of the inland seas 
I mean Mount Demawend in Persia. 

Suppose from this, or any other cause, a crack to take place in 
the crust of the earth. Don't imagine that the melted mattei 
tx " ^w will simply ooze up quietly, as water does from under an 
ice-crack. No such thing. There is an element in the case we 
have not considered ; steam and condensed gases. We all know 
what takes place in a high press tire steam-boiler, with what violence 
the contents escape, and what havoc takes place. 


Now there is no doubt that among the minerals of the subterra- 
nean world, there is water in abundance, and sulphur, and many other 
vaporizable substances, all kept subdued and repressed by the 
enormous pressure. Let this pressure be relieved, and forth they 
rush, and the nearer they approach the surface the more they 
expand, and the greater is the explosive force they acquire ; till at 
length, after more or fewer preparatory shocks, each accompanied 
with progressive weakening of the overlying strata, the surface 
finally breaks up, and forth rushes the imprisoned power, with all 
the awful violence or a volcanic eruption. 

Certainly a volcano does seem to be a very bad neighbor ; 
and yet it affords a compensation in the extraordinary richness of 
the volcanic soil, and the fertilizing quality of the ashes thrown 
out. The flanks of Somma (the exterior crater of Vesuvius) are 
covered with vineyards producing wonderful wine, and whoever 
has visited Naples, will not fail to be astonished at the productive- 
ness of volcanized territory as contrasted with the barrenness of 
the limestone rocks bordering on it. 


There you will see the amazing sight (as an English farmei 
would call it) of a triple crop growing at once on the same soil ; a 
vineyard, an orchard, and a cornfield all in one. A magnificent; 
wheat crop, five or six feet high, overhung with clustering grape- 
vines swinging from one apple or pear tree to another in the most 
luxuriant festoons ! When I visited Somma, to see the country 
where the celebrated wine, the Lacryma Christi, is grown, it was 
the festival of Madonna del Arco. Her church was crowded to 
suffocation with a hot and dusty assemblage of the peasantry. 
The fine impalpable volcanic dust was everywhere ; in your eyes, 
in your mouth, begriming every pore ; and there I saw what I 
shall never forget. Jammed among the crowd, I felt something 
jostling my legs. 

Looking down, and the crowd making way, I beheld a line 
of worshipers crawling on their hands and knees from the door of 
the church to the altar, licking the dusty pavement all the way 


with their tongues, positively applied to the ground and no mis 
take. No trifling dose of Lacryma would be required to wash 
down what they must have swallowed on that journey, and I have 
no doubt it was administered pretty copiously after the penance 
was over. 

Now I come to consider the manner in which an earthquake 
*s propagated from place to place ; how it travels, in short. It 
runs along the earth precisely in the same manner, and according 
to the same mechanical laws as a wave along the sea, or rather as 
the waves of sound run along the air, but quicker. 

The earthquake which destroyed Lisbon ran out from thence, 
as from a centre, in all directions, at a rate averaging about twenty 
miles per minute, as far as could be gathered from a comparison 
of the time of its occurrence at different places ; but there is 
little doubt that it must have been retarded by having to traverse 
all sorts of ground, for a blow or shock of any description is con- 
vey od through the substance on which it is delivered with the 
rapidity of sound in that substance. 


Perhaps it may be new to many to be told that sound is con- 
veyed by water, by stone, by iron, and indeed, by everything, and 
at a different rate for each. In air it travels at the rate of about 
1140 feet per second, or about thirteen miles a minute. In water 
much faster, more than four times as fast (4700 feet). In iron ten 
times as fast (11,400 feet), or about 130 miles in a minute, so that 
a blow delivered endways at one end of an iron rod, 130 miles 
long, would only reach the other after a lapse of a minute, and a 
pull at one end of an iron wire of that length, would require a 
minute before it would be felt at the other. 

But the substance of the earth through which the shock is 
conveyed is not only far less elastic than iron, but it does not 
form a coherent, connected body; it is full of interruptions, cracks v 
loose materials, and all of these tend to deaden and retard the 
shock ; and putting together all the accounts of all the earth- 
quakes that have been exactly observed their rate of travel max 


be taken to vary from as low as twelve or thirteen miles a *ii*ute 
to seventy or eighty; but perhaps the low velocities arise from 
oblique waves. 

The way, then, that we may conceive an earthquake to travel 
is this I shall take the case which is most common, when the 
motion of the ground to-and-fro is horizontal. How far each par- 
ticular spot on the surface of the ground is actually pushed from 
its place there is no way of ascertaining, since all the surrounding 
objects receive the same impulse almost at the same instant of 
time, but there are many indications that it is often several 



Tn the earthquake of Cutch, which I have mentioned, tiees 
were seen to flog the ground with their branches, which proves 
that their stems must have been jerked suddenly away for some 
considerable distance and as suddenly pushed back ; and the same 
conclusion follows from the sudden rise of the water of lakes on 
the side where the shock reaches them, and its fall on the opposite 
side ; the bed of the lake has been jerked away for a certain dis- 
tance from under the water and pulled back. 

Now, suppose a row of sixty persons, standing a mile apart 
from each other, in a straight line, in the direction in which the 
shock travels ; at a rate, we will suppose, of sixty miles per 
minute ; and let the ground below the first get a sudden and 
violent shove, carrying it a yard in the direction of the next. 
Since this shock will not reach the next till after the lapse of one 
second of time, it is clear that the space between the two will be 
shortened by a yard, and the ground that is to say, not the mere 
loose soil on the surface, but the whole mass of solid rock below, 
down to an unknown depth compressed, or driven into a 
smaller space. 

It is this compression that carries the shock forwards. The 
elastic force of the rocky matter, like a coiled spring acts both 
ways ; it drives back the first man to his old place, and shoves the 
second a yard nearer the third, and so on. Instead of men place 
a row o tall buildings, or columns, and they will tumble down in 


succession, the base flying forwards, and leaving the top behind 
to drop on the soil on the side from which the shock came. 

This is just what has happened in Messina in the great Catlab- 
rian earthquake. As the shock ran along the ground, the houses 
of the Faro were seen to topple down in succession ; beginning 
at one end and running on to the other, as if a succession of mines 
had been sprung. In the earthquake in Cutch, a sentinel stand- 
ing at one end of a long straight line of wall, saw the wall bow 
forward and recover itself ; rot all at once, but with a swell like a 
wave running all along it with immense rapidity. 

In this case it is evident that the earthquake wave must have 
its front oblique to the direction of the wall (just as an obliquely- 
held yule runs along the edge of a page of paper while it advances, 
like a wave of the sea, perpendicularly to its own length). 


In reference to extinct volcanoes, I may just mention that any 
one who wishes to see some of the finest specimens in Europe may 
do so by making a couple of days' railway travel to Clermont, in the 
department of the Puy-de-Donie in France. There he will find a 
magnificent series of volcanic cones, fields of ashes, streams of 
lavas, and basaltic terraces of platforms, proving the volcanic 
action to have been continued for countless ages before the present 
surface of the earth was formed; and all so clear that he who runs 
may read their lesson. There can there be seen a configuration of 
surface quite resembling what telescopes show in the most volcanic 
districts of the moon. Let not my hearers be startled ; half the 
moon's face is covered with unmistakable craters of extinct 

Many of the lavas of Auvergne and the Puy-de-Dome are 
basaltic ; that is, consisting of columns placed close together , 
and some of the cones are quite complete, and covered with loose 
ashes and cinders, just as Vesuvius is at this hour. 

In the study of these vast and awful phenomena we arc 
brought in contact with those immense and rude powers of nature 
which, seein to convey to the imagination the impress of brut* 


force and lawless violence ; but it is not so. Suet, an idea is not 
more derogatory to the wisdom and benevolence that prevails 
throughout all the scheme of creation than it is in itself erroneous. 
In their wildest paroxysms the rage of the volcano and the earth- 
quake is subject to great and immutable laws : they feel the 
bridle and obey it. 

The volcano bellows forth its pent-up overplus of energy 
and sinks into long and tranquil repose. The earthquake rolls 
away, and industry, that balm which nature knows how to shed 
over every wound, effaces its traces, and festoons its ruins with 
flowers. There is mighty and rough work to be accomplished, 
and it cannot be done by gentle means. It seems, no doubt, terri- 
ble, awful, perhaps harsh, that twenty or thirty thousand lives 
should be swept away in a moment by a sudden and unforeseen 
calamity ; but we must remember that sooner or later every one of 
those lives must be called for, and it is by no means the most 
sudden end that is the most afflictive. 


It is well too that we should contemplate occasionally, if it 
were only to teach us humility and submission, the immense ener- 
gies which are everywhere at work in maintaining the system of 
nature we see going on so smoothly and tranquilly around us, and 
of which these furious outbreaks, after all, are but minute, and 
foi the moment unbalanced surpluses in the great account. The 
energy requisite to overthrow a mountain is as a drop in the ocean 
compared with that which holds it in its place, and makes it a 
mountain. Chemistry tells us that the forces constantly in action 
to maintain a single grain of water in its habitual state, when 
only partially and sparingly let loose in the form of electricity, 
would manifest themselves as a powerful flash of lightning. 

And we learn from optical science that in even the smallest 
element of every material body, nay, even^in what we call empty 
space, there are forces in perpetual action to which even such 
energies sink into insignificance. Yet, amid all this, nature 
her even course : the flowers blossom ; animals enjoy thsit 


brief span of existence ; and man has leisure and opportunity to 
contemplate and adore, secure of the watchful care which provides 
for his well-being at every instant that he is permitted to remain 
on earth. 

The first great earthquake of which any very distinct knowl- 
edge has reached us is that which occurred in the year 63 after 
our Saviour, which produced great destruction in the neighbor- 
hood of Vesuvius, and shattered the cities of Pompeii and Hercu- 
laneum upon the Bay of Naples, though it did not destroy them. 
This earthquake is chiefly remarkable as having been the fore- 
runner and the warning (if that warning could have been under- 
stood) of the first eruption of Vesuvius on record, which followed 
sixteen years afterwards in the year 79. 


Before that time none of the ancients had any notion of its 
being a volcano, though Pompeii itself is paved with its lava. 
The crater was probably filled, or at least the bottom occupied, by 
a lake ; and we read of it as the stronghold of the rebel chief 
Spartacus, who, when lured there by the Roman army, escaped 
with his followers by clambering up the steep sides by the help 
of the wild vines that festooned them. The ground since the first 
earthquake in 63 had often been shaken by slight shocks, when 
at length, in August 79, they became more numerous and violent, 
and, on the night preceding the eruption, so tremendous as to 
threaten everything with destruction. 

A morning of comparative repose succeeded, and the terrified 
inhabitants of those devoted towns no doubt breathed more freely, 
and hoped the worst was over, when, about one o' clock in the 
afternoon, the Elder Pliny, who was stationed in command of the 
Roman fleet at Misenum in full view of Vesuvius, beheld a 
huge black cloud ascending from the mountain, which, " rising 
slowly always higher," at last spread out aloft like the head of 
one of those picturesque flat-topped pines which form such an 
ornament of the Italian landscape. 

The meaning of such a phenomenon was to Pliny and tc 



everyone a mystery. We know now too well what it imports, 
and they were not long left in doubt. From that clond descended 


stones, ashes, and pumice ; and the cloud itself lowered down 
upon the surround ing countn , involving land and sea in profound 
darkness, pierced by flashes of fire more vivid than lightning. 



These, with the volumes of ashes that began to encumbet 
the soil, and which covered the sea with floating pnmice-stone ; 
the constant heaving of the gronnd ; and the sndden recoil of the 
sea, form a pictnre which is wonderfully well described by the 
the Younger Pliny. His uncle, animated by an eager desire to 
know what was going on, and to afford aid to the inhabitants of 
the towns, made sail for the nearest point of the coast and landed ; 
but was instantly enveloped in the dense sulphureous vapor that 
swept down from the mountain, and perished miserably. 

It does not seem that any lava flowed on that occasion. 
Pompeii was buried under the ashes ; Herculaneum by a torrent 
of mud, probably the contents of the crater, ejected at the first 
explosion. This was most fortunate. We owe to it the preserva- 
tion of some of the most wonderful remains of antiquity. For it 
is not yet much more than a century ago that, in digging a well at 
Portici near Naples, the Theatre of Herculaneum was discovered, 
some sixty feet under ground, then houses, baths, statues, and, 
most interesting of all, a library full of books ; and those books 
still legible, and among them the writings of some ancient 
authors which had never before been met with, but which have 
now been read, copied, and published, while hundreds and 
hundreds, I am sorry to say, still remain unopened. 

Pompeii was not buried so deep ; the walls of some of the 
buildings appeared among the modern vineyards, and led to exca- 
vations which were easy, the ashes being light and loose. And 
there you now may walk through the streets, enter the houses 
and find the skeletons of their inmates, some in the very act of 
trying to escape. Nothing can be more strange and striking. 

Since that time Vesuvius has been frequently, but very 
irregularly, in eruption. The next after Pompeii was in the year 
202, under Severus, and in 472 occurred an eruption so tremendous 
that all Europe was covered by the ashes, and even Constantinople 
thrown into alarm. This may seem to savor of the marvelous, 
but before I have done I hope to show that it is not beyond what 
we know of the power of existing volcanoes. 



I SHALL not, of course, occupy attention with a history of Vesu- 
vius, but pass at once to the eruption of 1779 one of the 
most interesting on record, from the excellent account given of 
it by Sir William Hamilton, who was then resident at Naples as 
our Minister, and watched it throughout with the eye of an artist 
as well as the scrutiny of a philosopher. 

In 1767, there had been a considerable eruption, during which 
Pliny's account of the great pine-like, flat-topped, spreading mass 
of smoke had been superbly exemplified ; extending over the 
Island of Capri, which is twenty-eight miles from Vesuvius. The 
showers of ashes, the lava currents, the lightnings, thunderings, 
and earthquakes were very dreadful ; but they were at once 
brought to a close when the mob insisted that the head of St. 
Januarius should be brought out and shown to the mountain ; and 
when this was done, all the uproar ceased on the instant, and 
Vesuvius became as quiet as a lamb ! 

He did not continue so, however, and it would have been well 
for Naples if the good Saint's head could have been permanently 
fixed in some conspicuous place in sight of the hill for from 
that time till the year 1779 it never was quiet. 

In the spring of that year it began to pour out lava ; and on 
one occasion, when Sir William Hamilton approached too near, 
the running stream was on the point of surrounding him ; and the 
sulphureous vapor cut off his retreat, so that his only mode of 
escape was to walk across the lava, which, to his astonishment, 
and, no doubt, to his great joy, he found accompanied with no 
difficulty, and with no more inconvenience than what proceeded 
from the radiation of heat on his legs and feet from the scoriae 
and cinders with which the external crust of the lava was loaded 


and which in great measure intercepted and confined the glowing 
heat of the ignited mass below. 

In such cases, and when cooled down to a certain point, the 
motion of the lava-stream is slow and creeping ; rather rolling 
over itself than flowing like a river ; the top becoming the bottom, 
owing to the toughness of the half-congealed crust. When it 
issues, however, from any accessible vent, it is described as per- 
fectly liquid, of an intense white heat, and spouting or welling 
forth with extreme rapidity. 

So Sir Humphrey Davy described it in an eruption at which 
he was present ; and so Sir William Hamilton, in the eruption we 
are now concerned with, saw it " bubbling up violently " from 
one of its fountains on the slope of the volcano, " with a hissing 
and crackling noise, like that of an artificial firework ; and form- 
ing, by the continual splashing up of the vitrified matter, a sort 
of dome or arch over the crevice from which it issued," which was 
<il, internally, " red-hot like a heated oven." 


However, as time went on, this quiet mode of getting rid of 
its contents would no longer suffice, and the usual symptoms of 
more violent action rumbling noises and explosions within the 
mountain ; puffs of smoke from its crater, and jets of red-hot stones 
and ashes continued till the end of July, when they increased 
to such a degree as to exhibit at night the most beautiful firework 

The eruption came to its climax from the 5th to the zoth of 
August, on the former of which days, after the ejection of an 
enormous volume of white clouds, piled like bales of the whitest 
cotton, in a mass exceeding four times the height and size of the 
mountain itself ; the lava began to overflow the rim of the crater, 
and stream in torrents down the steep slope of the cone. This 
was continued till the 8th, when the great mass of the lava would 
seem to have been evacuated, and no longer repressing by its 
weight the free discharge of the imprisoned gases, allowed what 
remained to be elected in fountains of fire, carried up to an 


immense height in the air. The description of one of these I 
must give in the picturesque and vivid words of Sir William 
Hamilton himself. 

"About nine o'clock," he says, on Sunday, the 8th of August 
" there was a loud report, which shook the houses at Portici and 

^m. .Mrvunrrrt* LU* . 


its neighborhood to such a degree as to alarm the inhabitants and 
drive them out into the streets. Many windows were broken, and 
as I have since seen, walls cracked by the concussion of the air 
from that explosion. In one instant a fountain of liquid trans- 
parent fire began to rise, and gradually increasing, arrived at so 
amazing a height as to strike every one who beheld it with the 
most awful astonishment I shall scarcely be credited when I 


assure you that, to the best of my judgment, the height of this 
stupendous column of fire could not be less than three times that 
of Vesuvius itself; which, you know, rises perpendicularly near 
3,700 feet above the level of the sea." (The height of my own 
measurement in 1824 is 3,920 feet.) 

"Puffs of smoke, as black as can possibly be imagined, 
suceeded one another hastily, and accompanied the red-hot, 
transparent, and liquid lava, interrupting its splendid brightness 
here and there by patches of the darkest hue. Within these 
puffs of smoke, at the very moment of their emission from the 
crater, I could perceive a bright but pale electrical fire playing 
about in zigzag lines. 


" The liquid lava, mixed with scoriae and stones, after having 
mounted, I veritably believe at least 10,000 feet, falling perpen- 
dicularly on Vesuvius, covered its whole cone, part of that of 
Somma, and the valley between them. The falling matter being 
nearly as vivid and inflamed as that which was continually issuing 
fresh from the crater, formed with it one complete body of fire, 
which could not be less than two miles and a half in breadth, and 
of the extraordinary height above mentioned ; casting a heat to 
the distance of at least six miles around it. 

"The brushwood of the mountain of Somma was soon in flame, 
which, being of a different tint from the deep red of the matter 
thrown out from the volcano, and from the silvery blue of the 
electrical fire, still added to the contrast of this most extraordinary 
scene. After the column of fire had continued in full force for 
nearly half an hour, the eruption ceased at once, and Vesuvius 
remained sullen and silent." 

The lightnings here described arose evidently in part from 
the chemical activity of gaseous decompositions going forward, in 
part to the friction of steam, and in part from the still more 
intense friction of the dust, stones and ashes encountering one 
another in the air, in analogy to the electric manifestations which 
accompany the dust storms in India. 


To give an idea of the state of the inhabitants of the country 
when an explosion is going on, I will make one other extract: 
"The mountain of Somma, at the foot of which Ottaiano is situ- 
ated, hides Vesuvius from its sight, so that, until the eruption 
became considerable, it was not visible to them. On Sunday night, ' 
when the noise increased and the fire began to appear above the 
mountain of Somma, many of the inhabitants of the town flew to 
the churches, and others were preparing to quit the town, when a 
sudden violent report was heard, soon after which they found them- 
selves involved in a thick cloud of smoke and minute ashes; a 
horrid clashing noise was heard in the air, and presently fell a 
deluge of stones and large scoriae, some of which scoriae were of 
the diameter of seven or eight feet, and must have weighed more 
than one hundred pounds before they were broken by their falls, 
as some of the fragments of them v/hich I picked up in the streets 
still weighed upwards of sixty pounds. 


" When the large vitrified masses either struck against each 
other in the air or fell on the ground, they broke in many pieces, 
and covered a large space around them with vivid sparks of fire, 
which communicated their heat to everything that was combustible. 
In an instant the town and country about it was on fire in many 
parts ; for in the vineyards there were several straw huts which 
had been erected for the watchmen of the grapes, all of which 
were burnt. A great magazine of wood in the heart of the town 
was all in a blaze, and had there been much wind, the flames must 
have spread universally, and all the inhabitants would have 
infallibly been burnt in their houses, for it was impossible for them 
to stir out. 

"Some who attempted it with pillows, tables, chairs, tops of wine 
casks, etc., on their heads, were either knocked down or driven 
back to their close quarters under arches or in the cellars of the 
houses. Many were wounded, but only two persons have died of 
the, wounds they received from this dreadful volcanic shower. To 
add to the horror of the scene s incessant volcanic lightning was 


writhing about the black cloud that surrounded them, and the 
sulphurous smell and heat would scarcely allow them to draw their 

The next volcano I shall introduce is ^Etna, the grandest ol 
all our European volcanoes. I ascended it in 1824, and found its 
height by a very careful barometric measurement to be 10,772 
feet above the sea, which, by the way, agrees within some eight or 
ten feet with Admiral Smyth's measurement. 

The scenery of ^Etna is on the grandest scale. Ascending 
from Catania you skirt the stream of lava which destroyed a part 
of that city in 1669, aud which ran into the sea, forming a jetty 
or breakwater that now gives Catania what it never had before, 
the advantage of a harbor. There it lies as hard, rugged, barren, 
and fresh-looking as if it had flowed but yesterday. In many 
places it is full of huge caverns ; great air-bubbles, into which one 
may ride on horseback (at least large enough) and which com- 
municate, in a succession of horrible vaults, where one might 
wander and lose one's self without hope of escape. 


Higher up, near Nicolosi, is the spot from which that lava 
flowed. It is marked by two volcanic cones, each of them a con- 
siderable mountain, called the Monti Rossi, rising 300 feet above 
the slope of the hill, and which were thrown up on that occasion. 
Indeed, one of the most remarkable features of JEtna is that of 
its flanks bristling over with innumerable smaller volcanoes. For 
the height is so great that the lava now scarcely ever rises to the 
top of the crater ; for before that, its immense weight breaks 
through at the sides, 

In one of the eruptions that happened in the early part of the 
century, I forget the date, but I think it was in 1819, and which 
was described to me on the spot by an eye-witness the Old Man 
of the Mountain, Mario Gemellaro the side of ^tna was rent by 
a great fissure or crack, begiuning near the top, and throwing out 
jets of lava from openings fourteen or fifteen in number all the 
way down, so as to form a row of fiery fountains rising from di 


ferent levels, and all ascending nearly to the same height : there- 
by proving them all to have originated in the great internal cis- 
tern as it were, the crater being filled up to the top level. 

From the summit of ^Stna extends a view of extraordinary 
magnificence. The whole of Sicily lies at your feet, and far 
beyond it are seen a string of lesser volcanoes ; the Lipari Islands, 
between Sicily and the Italian coast ; one of which, Stromboli, is 
always in eruption, unceasingly throwing up ashes, smoke, and 
liquid fire. 

But I must not linger on the summit of ^Btna. We will now 
take a flight thence, all across Europe, to Iceland a wonderful 
land of frost and fire. It is full of volcanoes, one of which, Hecla, 
has been twenty-two times in eruption within the last 800 years. 
Besides Hecla, there are five others, from which in the same 
period twenty eruptions have burst forth, making about one every 
twenty years. The most formidable of these was that which hap- 
pened in 1783, a year also memorable as that of the terrible earth- 
quake in Calabria. In May of that year, a bluish fog was observed 
over the mountain called Skaptur Jokul, and the neighborhood 
was shaken by earthquakes. 


After a while a great pillar of smoke was observed to ascend 
from it, which darkened the whole surrounding district, and 
descended in a whirlwind of ashes. On the loth of May, innum- 
erable fountains of fire were seen shooting up through the ice and 
snow which covered the mountain ; and the principal river, called 
the Skapta, after rolling down a flood of foul and poisonous water, 

Two days after, a torrent of lava poured down iuto the bed 
which the river had deserted. The river had run in a ravine, 600 
feet deep and 200 broad. This the lava entirely filled ; and not only 
so, but it overflowed the surrounding country, and ran into a great 
lake, from which it instantly expelled the water in an explosion 
of steam. When the lake was fairly filled, the lava again over- 
flowed and divided into two streams, one of which covered some 


ancient lava fields ; the other re-entered the bed of til* Skapta 
lower down ; and presented the astounding site of a cataract of 
liquid fire pouring over what was formerly the waterfall of 

This was the greatest eruption on record in Europe. It lasted 
in its violence till the end of August, and closed with a violent 
earthquake ; but for nearly the whole year a canopy of cinder- 
laden cloud hung over the island ; the Faroe Islands, nay, even 
Shetland and the Orkneys, were deluged with the ashes ; the vol- 
canic dust and a preternatural smoke, which obscured the sun, 
covered all Europe as far as the Alps, over which it could not rise- 


It has been surmised that the great Fireball of August 18, 
1783, which traversed all England, and the Continent, from the 
North Sea to Rome, by far the greatest ever known (for it was 
more than half a mile in diameter), was somehow connected with 
the electric excitement of the upper atmosphere produced by this 
enormous discharge of smoke and ashes. The destruction of life 
in Iceland was frightful; 9000 men, 11,000 cattle, 28,000 horses 
and 190,000 sheep perished : mostly by suffocation. The lava 
ejected has been computed to have amounted in volume to more 
than twenty cubic miles. 

We shall now proceed to still more remote regions, and describe 
in as few words as may be, two immense eruptions one in Mexico, 
in the year 1759; the other in the island of Sumbawa in the 
Eastern Archipelago, in 1815. 

I ought to mention, by way of preliminary, that almost the 
whole line of coast of South and Central America, from Mexico 
southwards as far as Valparaiso that is to say, nearly the whole 
chain of the Andes is one mass of volcanoes. In Mexico and 
Central America there are two and twenty, and in Quito, Peru, and 
Chili, six and twenty more, in activity ; and nearly as many more 
extinct ones, any one of which may at any moment break out 
afresh. This does not prevent the country from being inhabited, 
fertile and well cultivated. 


Well : in a district of Mexico celebrated for tlie growth of 
the finest cotton, between two streams called Cnitimba and San 
Pedro, which furnished water for irrigation, lay the farm and 
homestead of Don Pedro de Jurullo, one of the richest and most 
fertile properties in that country. He was a thriving man and 
lived in comfort as a large proprietor, little expecting the mischief 
that was to befall him. 

In June 1759, however, a subterranean noise was heard in this 
peaceful region. Hollow sounds of the most alarming nature 
were succeeded by frequent earthquakes, succeeding one another 
for fifty or sixty days ; but they died away, and in the beginning 
of September everything seemed to have returned to its usual 
state of tranquillity. Suddenly, on the night of the 28th of Sep- 
tember, the horrible noises recommenced. All the inhabitants 
fled in terror, and the whole tract of ground, from three to four 
square miles in extent, rose up in the form of a bladder to a height 
of upwards of 500 feet. 


Flames broke forth over a surface of more than half a square 
league, and through a thick cloud of ashes illuminated by this 
ghastly light, the refugees, who had ascended a mountain at some 
distance, could see the ground as if softened by the heat, and 
swelling and sinking like an agitated sea e Vast rents opened in 
the earth, into which the two rivers I mentioned precipitated 
themselves, but so far from quenching the fires, only seemed to 
make them more furious. Finally, the whole plain became 
covered with an immense torrent of boiling mud, out of which 
sprang thousands of little volcanic cones called Hornitos, or 


But the most astonishing part of the whole was the opening 
of a chasm vomiting out fire, and red-hot stones and ashes, which 
accumulated so as to form " a range of six large mountain masses, 
one of which is upwards of 1600 feet in height above the old 
level, and which is now known as the volcano of Jurullo. It is 
continually burning, and for a whole year continued to throw up 


an immense quantity of ashes, lava and fragments of rock. The 
roofs of houses at the town or village of Queretaro, upwards of 
140 miles distant, were covered with the ashes. 

The two rivers have again appeared, issuing at some distance 
from among the hornitos, but no longer as sources of wealth and 
fertility, for they are scalding hot, or at least were so when Baron 
Humboldt visited them several }^ears after the event. The ground 
even then retained a violent heat, and the hornitos were pouring 
forth columns of steam twenty or thirty feet high, with a rum- 
bling noise like that of a steam boiler. 

The island of Sumbawa is one of that curious line of islands 
which links on Australia to the southeastern corner of Asia. It 
forms, with one or two smaller volcanic islands, a prolongation of 
Java, at that time, in 1815, a British possession, and under the 
government of Sir Stamford Raffles, to whom we owe the account 
of the. eruption, and who took a great deal of pains to ascertain 
all the particulars. Java itself, I should observe, is one rookery 
of volcanoes, and so are all the adjoining islands In that long 
crescent-shaped line 1 refer to, 


On the island of Sumbawa is the volcano of Tomborc, which 
broke out into eruption on the 5th of April in that year, and I 
can hardly do better than quote the account of it in Sir Stamford 
Raffle s' own words " 

" Almost every one/- says this writer, " is acquainted with 
the intermitting convulsions of Etna and Vesuvius as they 
appear in the descriptions of the poet, and the authentic accounts 
of the naturalist ; but the most extraordinary of them can bear 
no comparison, in point of duration and force, with that of Mount 
Tomboro in the island of Sumbawa 1 This eruption extended 
perceptible evidences of its existence over the whole of the 
Molucca Islands, over J ava, a considerable portion of the CeJeW 
Sumatra and Borneo, to a circumference of 1000 statute mile* 
from its centre" (i. e., to 1000 miles distance, ; r;y tremulous 
motions and the report of explosions. 


"In a short time the whole mountain near the Sang'ir 
appeared like a body of liquid fire, extending itself in every direo 
tion. The fire and columns of flame continued to rage with 
unabated fury until the darkness, caused by the quantity of falling 
matter, obscured it about 8 P. M. Stones at this time fell very 
thick at Sang'ir, some of them as large as two fists, but generally 
not larger than walnuts. Between 9 and 10 P. M. ashes began 
to fall, and soon after a violent whirlwind ensued, which blew down 
nearly every house of Sang'ir, carrying the roofs and light parts 
away with it. 


' e In the port of Sang^ir. adjoining Sumbawa^ its effects were 
much more violent, tearing up by the roots the largest trees, and 
carrying them into the air, together with men, horses, cattle, aud 
whatsoever came within its influence. This will account for the 
immense number of floating trees seen at sea. The sea rose nearly 
twelve feet higher than it had ever been known to do before, and 
completely spoiled the only small spots of rice laud in Sang'ir^ 
sweeping away houses and everything within its reach. The 
whirlwind lasted about an hour. No explosions were heard until 
the whirlwind had ceased at about n P. M. From midnight 
till the evening of the nth they continued without intermi^r>n , 
after that time their violence moderated and they were heard only 
at intervals ; but the explosions did not cease entirely until the 
1 5th of July. 

"Of all the villages round Tomboro, Tempo, containing 
about forty inhabitants, is the only one remaining. In Pekat6 
no vestige of a house is left; twenty-six of the people, who were 
at Sumbawa at the time, are the whole of the population who 
have escaped. From the best inquiries, there were certainly not 
fewer than 12,000 individuals in Tomboro and Pekat6 at the time 
of the eruption, of whom five or six survive. 

" The trees and herbage of every description along the whole 
of the north and west of the peninsula, have been completely 
Sestroyed, with the exception of a high point of land near the spot 


where the village of Tomboro stood. At Sang'ir, it is added, the 
famine occasioned by this event was so extreme, that one of the 
rajah's own daughters died of starvation. 

" I have seen it computed that the quantity of ashes and lava 
vomited forth in this awful eruption would have formed three 
mountains the size of Mont Blanc, the highest of the Alps ; and 
if spread over the surface of Germany, would have covered the 
whole of it two feet deep. The ashes did actually cover the whole 
island of Tombock, more than one hundred miles distant, to that 
depthj and 44,000 persons there perished by starvation, from the 
total destruction of all vegetation, 


'The mountain Kirauiah, in the island of Owyhee, one of the 
Sandwich Isles, exhibits the remarkable phenomenon of a lake of 
molten and very liquid lava always filling the bottom of the 
crater, and always in a state of terrific ebullition, rolling to and 
fro its fiery surge and flaming billows yet with this it is content, 
for it would seem that at least for a long time past there has been 
no violent outbreak so as to make what is generally understood by 
a volcanic eruption. 

' Volcanic eruptions are almost always preceded by earth- 
quakeSj by which the beds of rock, that overlie and keep down the 
struggling powers beneath, are dislocated and cracked, till at last 
they give way, and the strain is immediately relieved. It is chiefly 
when this does not happen, when the force below is sufficient to 
heave up and shake the earth, but not tc burst open the crust, 
and give vent to the lava and gases, that the most destructive 
effects are produced. 

"The great earthquake of November i, 1755, which destroyed 
Lisbon, was an instance of this kind, and was one of the greatest, 
if not the very greatest on record ; for the concussion extended 
over all Spain aud Portugal indeed, over all Europe, and even 
into Scotland over North Africa, where in one town in Morocco 
8000 or 10,000 people perished. Nay, its effects extended even 
across the Atlantic to Madeira, where it was very violent ; and to 


the West Indies. The most striking feature about this earth- 
quake was its extreme suddenness. 

"All was going on quite as usual in Lisbon the morn- 
ing of that memorable day, the weather fine and clear, and 
nothing whatever to give the population of that great capital 
the least suspicion of mischief. All at once, at twenty minutes 
before 10 A. M., a noise was heard like the rumbling of car- 
riages under ground; it increased rapidly and became a suc- 
cession of deafening explosions like the loudest cannon. Then 
a shock, which, as described by one writing from the spot, 
seemed to last but the tenth part of a minute, and down came 
tumbling palaces, churches, theatres, and every large public edi- 
fice, and about a third or a fourth part of the dwelling houses. 

More shocks followed in succession, and in six minutes 
from the commencement 60,000 persons were crushed in the ruins I 
Here are the simple but expressive words of one J. Latham, 
who writes to his uncle in London,, " I was on the river with one 
of my customers going to a village three miles off. Presently 
the boat made a noise as if on the shore or landing, though then 
in the middle of the water, I asked my companion if he knew 
what was the matter. He stared at me, and looking at Lisbon, 
we saw the houses falling, which made him say, 'God bless us, it 
is an earthquake!' About four or five minutes after, the boat 
made a noise as before, and we saw the houses tumble down on 
both sides of the river. 55 They then landed and made for a hill, 
whence they beheld the sea (which had at first receded and laid a 
great tract dry) come rolling in, in a vast mountain wave fifty or 
sixty feet high, on the land, and sweeping all before it. 

Three thousand people had taken refuge on a new stone quay 
)ust completed at great expense. In an instant it was turned 
topsy-turvy, and the whole quay, and every person on it, with aL 
the vessels moored to it, disappeared^ and not a vestige of them 
ever appeared again. Where that quay stood, was afterwards 
found a depth of 100 fathoms (600 feet) of water. It happened to 
be a religious festival, and most of the population were assembled 
in the churches, which fell and crushed them. That no horror 


might be wanting, fires broke out in innumerable houses where 
wood-work had fallen on the fires, and much that the earthquake 
had spared was destroyed by fire. 

" And then, too, broke forth that worst of all scourges? 
a lawless ruffian-like mob, who plundered, burned, and murdered in 
the midst of all that desolation and horror. The huge wave I 
have spoken of swept the whole coast of Spain and Portugal. Its 
swell and fall was ten or twelve feet at Madeira. It swept quite 
across the Atlantic, and broke on the shores of the West Indies. 
Every lake and firth in England and Scotland was dashed for a 
moment out of its bed, the water not partaking of the sudden 
.shove given to the land, just as when you splash a flat saucerful 
o^ water, the water dashes over ou the side from which the shock 
is given. 

One of the most curious incidents in this earthquake was its 
effect on ships far out at sea, which would lead us to suppose that 
the immediate impulse was in the nature of a violent blow or 
thrust upward, under the bed of the ocean. Thus it is recorded 
that this upward shock was so sudden and violent on a ship, at 
that time forty leagues from Cape St. Vincent, that the sailors on 
deck were tossed up into the air to a height of eighteen inches, 


" So also, on another occasion, in 1796, a British ship eleven 
miles from land near the Philippine Islands was struck upwards 
from below with such force as to unship and split up the main- 

" Evidences of a similar sudden and upward explosive action 
are of frequent occurrence among the extinct volcanoes of 
Auvergne and the Vivarais, where in many instances the perfora- 
tion of the granitic beds which form the basis or substatum of the 
whole country appears to have been affected at a single blow, 
accompanied with little evidence of disturbance of the surround- 
ing rocks much in the same way as a bullet will pass through a 
pane of glass without starring or shattering it. 

" In such cases it would seem as if water in a liquid state 


had suddenly been let in through a fissure upon a most intensely 
heated and molten mass beneath, producing a violent but local 
explosion so instantaneous as to break its way through the over- 
lying rocks, without allowing time for them to bend or crumple, 
and so displace the surrounding masses. 

"The same kind of upward bounding movemement took place 
at Riobambo in Quito in the great earthquake of February 4, 
1797, which was connected with an eruption of the volcano of 
Tunguragua. That earthquake extended in its greatest intensity 
over an oval space of 120 miles from south to north, and 60 from 
east to west, within which space every town and village was 
levelled with the ground ; but the total extent of surface shaken 
was upward of 500 miles in one direction (from Puna to Popayan), 
and 400 in the other. Quero, Riobamba, and several other towns, 
were buried under fallen mountains, and in a very few minutes 
30,000 persons were destroyed. At Riobamba, however, after the 
earthquake, a great number of corpses were found to have been 
tossed across a river, and scattered over the slope of a hill on the 

other side. 


"The frequency of these South American earthquakes is not 
more extraordinary than the duration of the shocks. Humboldt 
relates than on one occasion, when traveling on mule-back with his 
companion Bonpland, they were obliged to dismount in a dense 
forest, and throw themselves on the ground ; the earth being 
shaken uninterruptedly for upwards of a quarter of an hour 
with such violence that they could not keep their legs. 

"One of the most circumstantially described earthquakes on 
record is that which happened in Calabria on the 5th of February, 
1783 ; I should say began then, for it may be said to have lasted 
four years. In the year 1783, for instance, 949 shocks took place, 
of which 501 were great ones, and in 1784, 151 shocks: were felt, 
uinety-eight of which were violent. The centre of action seemed 
to be under the towns of Monteleone and Oppido. 

" In a circle twenty-two miles in radius round Oppido every 
town and village was destroyed within two minutes by the first 



shock, and within one of seventy miles radius all were seriously 
shaken and much damage done. The whole of Calabria was 
affected, and even across the sea Messina was shaken, and a great 
part of Sicily. 

"There is no end of the capricious and out-of-the-way accidents 
and movements recorded in this Calabriau earthquake. The 
ground undulated like a ship at sea. People became actualy sea- 
sick, and to give an idea of the undulation (just as it happens 
at sea), the scud of the clouds before the wind seemed to be fit- 
fully arrested during the pitching movement when it took place 
in the same direction and to redouble its speed in the reverse 



"At Oppido many houses were swallowed up bodily. Loose 
objects were tossed up several yards into the air. The flagstones 
in some places were found after a severe shock all turned bottom 
upwards. Great fissures opened in the earth, and at Terra Nova 
a mass of rock 200 feet high and 400 feet in diameter traveled 
four miles down a ravine. All landmarks were removed, and the 
land itself, in some instances, with trees and hedges growing on it, 
carried bodily away and set down in another place. 

" Altogether about 40,000 people perished by the earthquakes, 
and some 20,000 more of the epidemic diseases produced by want 
and the effluvia of the dead bodies. 

" Volcanoes occasionally break forth at the bottom of the sea, 
aud, when this is the case, the result is usually the production of 
a new island. This, in many cases, disappears soon after it's 
formation, being composed of loose and incoherent materials 
which easily yield to the destructive power of the waves. Such 
was the case with the Island of Sabrina, thrown up in 1811, off 
St. Michael's, in the Azores, which disappeared almost as soon as 
formed, and in that of Pantellaria, on the Sicilian coast, which 
resisted longer, but was gradually washed into a shoal, and at 
length has, we believe, completely disappeared. 

"In numerous other instances, the cones .of cinders and 
scoriae, once raised, have become compacted and bound together 


by the effusion of lava, hardening into solid stone, and thus, 
becoming habitual volcanic events, they continue to increase in 
height and diameter, and assume the importance of permanent 
volcanic islands. Such has been, doubtless, the history of those 
numerous insular volcanoes which dot the ocean in so many parts 
of the world such as Teneriffe, the Azores, Ascension, St. Helena, 
Tristan d'Acunha, etc. 

" In some cases the process has been witnessed from its com- 
mencement, as in that of two islands which arose in the Aleutian 
group connecting Kamschatka with North America, the one in 
1796, the other in 1814, and which both attained the elevation of 
3000 feet. 


" Besides these evident instances of eruptive action, there is 
every reason to believe that enormous floods of lava have been, at 
various remote periods in the earth's history, poured forth at the 
bottom of the seas so deep as to repress, by the mere weight of 
water, all outbreak of steam, gas, or ashes ; and reposing perhaps 
for ages in a liquid state, protected from the cooling action of the 
water on their upper surface by a thick crust of congealed stony 
matter, to have assumed a perfect level ; and, at length, by slow 
cooling, taken on that peculiar columnar structure which we see 
produced in miniature in starch by the contraction or shrinkage, 
and consequent splitting, of the material in drying ; and resulting 
in those picturesque and singular landscape features called 
basaltic colonnades : when brought up to-day by sudden or gradual 
upheaval, and broken into cliffs and terraces by the action of 
waves, torrents, or weather. Those grand specimens of such col- 
onnades which Britain possesses in the Giant's Causeway of 
Antrim, and the cave of Fingal, in Staffa, for instance, are no 
doubt extreme outstanding portions of such a vast submarine lava- 
flood which at some inconceivably remote epoch occupied the 
whole intermediate space ; affording the same kind of evidence of 
a former connection of the coasts of Scotland and Ireland as do 
the opposing chalk cliffs of Dover and Boulonge of the ancient con- 
nection of France with Britain. Here and there a small basaltic 



island, such as that of Rathlin, remains to attest this former con- 
tinuity, and to recall to the contemplative mind that sublime 
antagonism between sudden violence r,nd persevering effort, which 
the study of geology impresses in every form of repetition. 

" There exists a very general impression that earthquakes 
are preceded and ushered in by some kind of preternatural, and, 


as it were, expectant calm in the elements; as if to make the 
confusion and desolation they create the more impressive. The 
records of such visitations which we possess, however striking 
some particular cases may appear, by no means bear out this as a 
general fact, or go to indicate any particular phase of weather as 
preferentially accompanying their occurrence. 

' c This does not prevent, however, certain conjunctures of 
atmospheric or other circumstances from exercising a determining 


influence on the times of their occurrence. According to the 
view we have taken of their origin (viz., the displacement of 
pressure, resulting in a state of strain in the strata at certain 
points, gradually increasing to the maximum they can bear with- 
out disruption), it is the last ounce which breaks the camel's back. 
Great barometrical fluctuation, accumulating atmospheric pressure 
for a time over the sea, and relieving it over the land ; an unusu- 
ally high tide, aided by the long-continued and powerful winds 
heaping up the water ; nay, even the tidal action of the sun and 
moon on the solid portion of the earth's crust all these causes, 
for the moment combining, may very well suffice to determine 
the instant of fracture, when the balance between the opposing 
forces is on the eve of subversion. 

" The last-mentioned cause may need a few words of expla- 
nation. The action of the sun and moon, though it cannot 
produce a tide in the solid crust of the earth, tends to do so, and, 
were it fluid, would produce it. It, therefore, in point of fact, 
does bring the solid portions of the earth's surface into a state 
alternately of strain and compression. 

" The effective part of their force, in the present case, is not 
that which aids to lift or to press the superficial matter (for that 
acting alike on the continents and on the bed of the sea, would 
have no influence), but that which tends to produce lateral dis- 
placement ; or what geometers call the tangential force. This 
of necessity brings the whole ring of the earth's surface, which 
at any instant has the acting luminaiy on its horizon, into a 
state of strain ; and the whole area over which it is nearly ver- 
tical, into one of compression. We leave this point to be further 
followed out, but we cannot forbear remarking, that the great 
volcanic chains of the world have, in point of fact, a direction 
which this cause of disruption would tend rather to f&vor that? 
to contravene. 



THE Greek mythology, harmonizing in this respect with the 
ideas of most nations which were acquainted with volcanoes, 
attributed to these mountains an origin altogether independent of 
the forces which are in action on the surface of the ground. Ac- 
cording to the views of the Hellenes, water and fire were two dis- 
tinct elements, and each had its separate domain, its genii, and its 
gods. Neptune reigned over the sea ; it was he that unchained 
the storms and caused the waves to swell. The tritons followed 
in his train ; the nymphs, sirens, and marine monsters obeyed 
his orders, and in the mountain valleys, the solitary naiads 
poured out to his honor the murmuring water from their urns. In 
the dark depth of unknown abysses was enthroned the gloomy 
Pluto ; at his side Vulcan ; surrounded by Cyclops, forged thun- 
derbolts at his resounding anvil, and from their furnaces escaped 
all the flames and molten matter the appearance of which so 
appalled mankind. Between the gods of water and of fire there 
was nothing in common, except that both were the sons of Chronos, 
that is, of Time, which modifies every thing, which destroys and 
renews, and, by its incessant work of destruction, makes ready a 
place for the innumerable germs of vitality which crowd on the 
threshold of life. 

Even in our days, the common opinion is not much at vari- 
ance with these mythological ideas, and volcanic phenomena are 
looked upon as events of a character altogether different from 
other facts of terrestrial vitality. The latter, the sudden changes 
of which are visible and easily to be observed, are justly considered to 
be owing principally to the position of the earth in respect to the sun 
and the alternations of light and darkness, heat and cold, dryness 

and moisture, which necessarily result. 


As regards volcanoes, on tie contrary, an order of entirely 
distinct facts is imagined, caused by the gradual cooling of the 
planet or the unequal tides of an ocean of lava and fire. Certainly, 
the eruptions of ashes and incandescent matter have not revealed 
the mystery of their formation, and in this respect numerous 
problems still remain unsolved by scientific men. Nevertheless, 
the facts already known warrant us in asserting that volcanic 
crises are connected, like all other planetary phenomena, with the 
general causes which determine the contintial changes of conti- 
nents and seas, the erosion of mountains, the courses of rivers, 
winds, and storms, the movements of the ocean, and all the innum- 
erable modifications which are taking place on the globe. 


If, some day, we are to succeed in pointing out exactly and 
plainly how volcanoes likewise obey, either partially or completely, 
the system of laws which govern the exterior of the glebe, the first 
and most important requisite is to observe with the greatest care 
all the incidents of volcanic origin. When all the premonitory 
signs and all the products of eruptions shall have been perfectly 
ascertained and duly classified, then the glance of science will be 
on the point of penetrating into, and duly reading, the secrets of 
the subterranean abysses where these marvelous convulsions are 
being prepared. 

The last great eruption of Etna; that central pyramid of the 
Mediterranean, which the ancients named the " Umbilicus of the 
world," is one of the most magnificent examples which can be 
brought forward of volcanic phenomena ; and as it has, moreover, 
been studied most precisely and completely, it well deserves to 
be described in some detail. 

The explosion had been heralded for some long time by pre- 
cursory signs. In the month of July, 1863, after a series of con- 
vulsive movements of the soil, the loftiest cone of the volcano 
opened on the side which faces the south. The incandescent 
matter descended slowly over the plateau on which stands the 
4< Maison des Anglais :" and this building itself was demolished 


by the lumps of lava which were hurled from the mouth of tht 
crater. In some places heaps of ashes several yards thick covered 
the slopes of the volcano. 

After this first explosion, the mountain never became com- 
pletely calm ; numerous fissures, which opened on the outer slopes 
of the crater, continued to smoke, and the hot vapor never ceased 
to jet out from the summit in thick eddies. Often, indeed, dur- 
ing the night, the reflection of the lava boiling up in the central 
cavity lighted up the atmosphere with a fiery red. The liquid, 
being unable to rise to the mouth of the crater, pressed against 
the external walls of the volcano, and sought to find an issue 
through the weakest point of the crust by melting gradually the 
rocks that opposed its passage. 


Finally, in the night of the 3Oth to the 3ist of January, 
1865, the wall of the crater 3^ielded to the pressure of the lava; 
some subterranean roaring was heard ; slight agitations affected 
the whole of the eastern part of Sicily, and the ground was rent 
open for the length of a mile and a half to the north of Monte 
Frumento, one of the secondary cones which rise on the slope of 
Etna. Through this fissure, which opened on a gently-inclined 
plateau, the pent-up lava violently broke through to the surface. 

The fissure which opened on the side of the mountain, and 
could be easily followed by the eye to a point about two-thirds of 
the height of Monte Frumento, in the direction of the terminal 
crater of Etna, seems to have vomited out lava but for a very few 
hourso Being soon obstructed by the snow and debris of the adj ace^it 
slopes, it ceased to retain its communication with the interior of 
the mountain, and now resembled a kind of furrow, as if hol- 
lowed out by the rain-water on the side of the cone. On the 3ist 
of January all the volcanic activity of the crevice was concen- 
trated on the gently inclined plateau which extends at the base 
of Monte Frumento, in the midst of which several new hillocks 
made their appearance. 

Qu the lower prolongation of the line of fracture, all the 


phenomena of the eruption properly so-called were distributed in 
a perfectly regular way. Six principal cones of ejection were 
raised above the crevice, and gradually increased in size, owing to 
the debris which they threw out of their craters. These, gradu- 
ally mingling their intervening slopes, and blending them one 
with another, absorbed in succession other smaller cones which 
had been formed by their sides, thus reaching a height of nearly 
300 feet. Soon after the commencement of the eruption the two 
upper craters, standing close together on an isolated cone, vomited 
nothing but lumps of stone and ashes, while jets of still liquid 
lava were emitted by the lower craters, which were arranged in a 
semi-circle around a sort of funnel-shaped cavity. 


In consequence of the specific gravities of the substances 
evacuated, a regular division of labor took place between the 
various points of the crevice. The projectiles which had solidified 
the triturated debris, and the more or less porous fragments which 
floated on the top of the lava, made their escape by the higher 
orifices ; but the liquid mass, being heavier and more compact, 
could only burst forth from the ground by the mouths opening at 
a less elevation. 

Two months after the commencement of the eruption, the 
cone which was the nearest to Frumento ceased to send out either 
scoriae or ashes. The pipe of the crater was filled up with debris, 
and the internal activity was revealed by vapors either of a sul- 
phurous character or charged with hydrochloric acid. These rose 
like smoke from the slope of the hillock. The second cone, 
situated on a lower part of the fissure, remained in direct communi- 
cation with the central flow of lava ; but it was not in a constant 
state of eruption, and rested after each effort as if to take breath. 
A crash like that of thunder was the forerunner of the explosion ; 
clouds of vapor, rolling in thick folds, gray with ashes and 
furrowed with stones, darted out from the mouth of the volcano, 
darkening the atmosphere and throwing their projectiles over a 
radius of several hundreds of yards round the hillock. 


Then, after having discharged their burdens of debris, ths 
dark clouds, giving way to the pressure of the winds, mingled fat 
and wide with the mists of the horizon. The lower cones, which 
rose immediately over the lava-source, continued to rumble and 
discharge molten matter outside their cavities. The vapor 
which escaped from the seething wall of lava crowded in dark 
contortions round the orifice of the craters. Some of it was red 
or yellow, owing to the reflection of the red-hot matter, and some 
was variously shaded by the trains of debris ejected with it ; but it 
was impossible to follow them with the eye so rapid was theix 
flight. An unintelligible tumult of harsh sounds simultaneously 
burst forth. They were like the noises of saws, whistles, and of 
hammers falling on an anvil. Sometimes one might have fancied 
it like the roaring of the waves breaking upon the rocks during a 
storm, if the sudden explosions had not added their thunder to all 
this uproar of the elements. 


One felt dismayed, as :f before some living being, at the sight 
of these groups of hillocks, roaring and smoking, and increasing 
in size every hour, by the debris which they vomited forth from 
the interior of the earth. The volcano, however, then commenced 
to rest ; the erupted matter did not rise much beyond 100 yards 
above the craters, while, according to the statement of M. Fouque, 
at the commencement of the eruption it had been thrown to a 
height of 1850 to 1950 yards. 

During the first six days the quantity of lava which issued 
from the fissure of Monte Frumento was estimated at 117 cubic 
yards a second, equivalent to a volume twice the bulk of the Seine 
at low-water time. In the vicinity of the outlets the speed of the 
current was not less than twenty feet * minute ; but lower down, 
the stream, spreading over a wider surface, and throwing out sev- 
eral branches into the side valleys, gradually lost its initial speed, 
and the fringes of scoria, which were pushed on before the incan- 
descent matter, advanced, on the average, according to the slope 
c*f the ground, not more than one and a half to six feet a minute, 


On the second of February the principal current, the breadth 
of which varied from 300 to 550 yards, with an average thickness 
of forty-nine feet, reached the npper ledge of the escarpment 
of Colla-Vecchia, or Colla-Grande, three miles from the 
fissure of eruption, and plunged like a cataract into the gorge 
below. It was a magnificent spectacle, especially during the night, 
io see this sheet of molten matter, dazzling red like liquid iron, 
making its way, in a thin layer, from the heaps of brown scoriae 
which had gradually accumulated up above ; then, carrying with 
it the more solid lumps, which dashed one against the other with a 
metallic noise, it fell over into the ravine, only to rebound in stars 

of fire. 


But this splendid spectacle lasted only for a few days ; the 
fiery fall, by losing in height, diminished gradually in beauty. In 
front of the cataract, and under the jet itself, there was formed 
an incessantly increasing slope of lava, which ultimately filled up 
the ravine, and, indeed, prolonged the slope of the valley above. 
From the reservoir, which was more than 160 feet deep, the stream 
continued to flow to the east toward Mascali, filling up to the brink 
the winding gorge of a dried up rivulet. 

By the middle of the month of February, the fiery stream, 
already more than six miles long, made but very slow progress, and 
the still liquid lava found it difficult to clear an outlet through 
the crust of stones cooled by their contact with the atmosphere ; 
when, all of a sudden, a breaking out took place at the side of the 
stream, at a point some distance up, not far from the source. Then 
a fresh branch of the burning river, flowing toward the plains of 
Linguagrossa, swallowed up thousands of trees which had been 
felled by the woodman. 

This second inundation of lava did not, however, last long. 
The villages and towns situated at the base of the mountain were 
no longer directly menaced ; but the disasters caused by the erup- 
tion were, notwithstanding, very considerable. A number of 
farm-houses were swept away ; vast tracts of pasturage and culti- 
vated ground were covered by slowly hardening rock, anda 


misfortune which was all the worse on account of the almost general 
deforesting of Sicily a wide band of forest, comprising, according 
to the various estimates that were made, from 100,000 to 130,000 
trees oaks, pines, chestnuts, or birches was completely destroyed. 
When seen from the lower part of the mountain, all these 
burning trunks borne along upon the lava, as if upon a river of 
fire, singularly contributed to the beauty of the spectacle. As is 
always the case in the events of this world, the misfortune of some 
proved to be a source of gratification to others. During the ear- 
liest period of the eruption, while the villagers of Etna looked at 
it with stupor, aud were bitterly lamenting over the destruction of 
their forests, hundreds of curious spectators, brought daily by the 
steamboats from Catania and Messina, came to enjoy at their ease 
the contemplation of all the splendid horrors of the conflagration. 


The aspect of the current of lava, as it appeared covered with 
its envelope of scoriae, was scarcely less remarkable than the sight 
of the matter in motion. The black or reddish aspect of the 
cheire was all roughened with sharp-edged projections, which 
resembled steps, pyramids or twisted columns, on which it was a 
difficult matter to venture, except at the risk of tearing the feet and 
hands. Some months after the commencement of the eruption, the 
onward motion of the interior of the molten stone, which, by break- 
ing the outer crust in every direction, had ultimately given it this 
rugged outline, was still visibly taking place. Here and there 
cracks in the rock allowed a view, as if through an air-hole, of the 
red and liquid lava swelling up as it flowed gently along like some 
viscous matter. 

A metallic clinking sound was incessantly heard, proceeding 
from the fall of the scoriae, which were breaking under the pres- 
sure of the liquid matter. Sometimes, on the hardening current 
of lava, a kind of blister gradually rose, wn^ either opened 
gently, or bursting with a crash gave vent to the iz^lten mass 
which formed it. Fumerolles, composed of various gases, 
the degree of heat of the lava which gave rise to them, j 


out from all the issues. Even on the banks of the river of stone 
the soil was in many places all burning and pierced with crevices, 
through which escaped a hot air thoroughly charged with the 
smell of burnt roots. 

On the slopes of Frumento, quite close to the upper part of 
the fissure, at a spot where the liquid mass had flowed like a tor- 
tent, M. Fouque noticed a remarkable phenomenon ; sheaths of 
solidified lava were surrounding the trunks of pines, and thu.s 
showing the height to which the current of molten stone had r;;\cli_d. 
In like manner, the streams of obsidian which flow rapidly 
from the basin of Kilauea, in the isle of Hawaii, leave behind 
them on the branches of the trees numerous stalactites like the 
icicles which are formed by melting snow which has again frozen. 
Below the escarpments of the Frumento, the torrent, which was 
there retarded in its progress, had not contented itself with bathing 
for a moment the trunks of the forest trees, but had laid them low. 
Great trunks of trees, broken down by the lava, lay stretched in 
disorder on the uneven bed of the stream, and, although they were 
only separated from the molten matter by a crust a few inches thick, 
numbers of them were still clothed with their bark ; several had 
even preserved their branches. 


At the edge of the cheire, some pine trees, which had perhaps 
been preserved from the fire by the moisture being converted by 
the heat into a kind of coating of steam, were surrounded by a 
wall of heaped up lava, and their foliage still continued green ; it 
could not yet be ascertained if the sources of the sap had perished 
in their roots. 

In some places, rows of firs very close together were sufficient 
to change the direction of the flow, and to cause a lateral deviation. 
Not far from the crater of eruption, on the western bank of the 
great cheire, a trunk of a tree was noticed which by istelf had 
been able to keep back a branch of the stream, and to prevent it 
from filling up the glen which opened immediately below. 

This tree, being thrown down by the weight of the scoriae, had 


fallen so as to bar up a slight depression in the ground which pre- 
sented a natural bed to the molten matter. The latter had bent 
and cracked the trunk, but had failed in breaking it, and the stony 
torrent had remained suspended, so to speak, above the beautiful 
wooden slopes which it threatened to destroy completely. 

Round the very mouth of the volcano, a vast glade was 
formed in the forest ; the ground was covered everywhere with 
ashes which the wind had blown into hillocks, like the dunes on 
the sea coast ; all the trees had been broken down by the volcanic 
projectiles, and burned by the scoriae and small stones. The near- 
est trees that were met with, at unequal distances from the mouths 
of eruption, had had their branches torn off by the falling lumps 
of stone, or were buried in ashes up to their terminal crown. 


A spectator might have walked among a number of yellow 
branches which were once the tops of lofty pines. Thus, on the 
plateau of Frumento and the lower slopes, everything was 
changed both in form and aspect ; we might justly say that, by 
the effects of the erupted matter, the outline of the sides of Etna 
itself had been perceptibly modified. 

And yet this last eruption, one of the most important in our 
epoch, is but au insignificant episode iu the history of the mountain ; 
it was but a mere pulsation of Etna. During the last twenty cen- 
turies only, more than seventy-five eruptions have taken place, 
and in some of them the flows of lava have been more than 
twelve miles in length, and have covered areas of more than forty 
square miles, which were once in a perfect state of cultivation, 
and dotted over with towns and villages. In former ages, thou- 
sands of other lava-flows and cones of ashes have gradually raised 
and lengthened the slopes of the mountain. 

The mass of Mount Etna, the total bulk of which is three or 
four thousand times greater than the most considerable of the 
rivers of stone vomited from its bosom, is, in fact, from its sum- 
mit to its base, down even to the lowest submarine depths, nothing 
but the product of successive eruptions throwing out the molten 


matter of tlie interior. The volcano itself has slowly raised the 
walls of its crater, and then extended its long slopes down to the 
waters of the Ionian Sea. By its fresh beds ol lava and scorise 
incessantly renewed one npon the other, it has ultimately reared 
its summit into the regions of snow, and has become, as Pindar 
called it, the great " pillar of heaven." 

The earth being generally looked upon as immobility itself, 
it is a very strange thing to see it open to shoot out into the air 
torrents of gas, and shedding forth like a river the molten rocks of 
its interior. From what invisible source do all these fluid matters 
proceed which spread out in sheets over vast regions? Whence 
come those enormous bodies of steam, extensive enough to gathei 
immediately in clouds around the loftiest summits, and sometimes 
indeed to fall in actual rain-showers ? Science, as we have already 
said, has not completely answered these questions, the positive 
solution of which would be so highly important for our knowledge 
of the globe on which we live. 


According to an ancient popular belief, Etna merely vomits 
forth, in the shape of vapor, the water which the sea has poured 
into the gulf of Charybdis. This legend, although clothed in a 
poetic garb, has in fact become the hypothesis which is thought 
beyond dispute by those savants who look upon volcanic eruptions 
as being a series of phenomena caused chiefly by water converted 
into steam. 

The remarkable fact that all volcanoes are arranged in a kind 
of line along the coasts of the sea, or of inland lacustrine basins, 
is one of the great points which testify in favor of this opinion as 
to the infiltration of water, and give to it a high degree of proba- 
bility. The Pacific, which is the principal reservoir of the water 
of our earth, is circled round by a series of volcanic mountains, 
some ranged in chains, and others very distant from one another, 
but still maintaining an evident mutual connection, constituting 
a "circle of fire," the total development of which is about 22,000 
miles in length. 


This ring of volcanoes does not exactly coincide with the 
semicircle formed by the coasts of Australia, the Sunda Islands, 
the Asiaiic continent, and the western coasts of the New World. 
Like a crater described within some ancient and more extensive 
mtlet of eruption, the great circle of igneous mountains extends 


its immense curve in a westward direction across the waves of the 
Pacific, from New Zealand to the peninsula of Alaska; on the east, 
it is based on the coast of America, rising in the south so as to 
form some of the loftiest summits of the Andes. 

The still smoking volcanoes of New Zealand, Tongariro and 
the cone of Whakari, on White Island, are, in the midst of the 
southern waters of lh<? Pacific: overly so called, the first evidence 


of volcanic activity. On the north, a considerable space extends 
in which no volcanoes have yet been observed. The group of the 
Feejee Islands, at which the volcanic ring recommences, presents 
a large number of former craters which still manifest the internal 
action of the lava by the abundance of thermal springs. At this 
point, a branch crossing the South Sea in an oblique direction 
from the basaltic islands of Juan Fernandez as far as the active 
volcanoes of the Friendly group, unites itself with the principal 
chain which passes round, in a northeast direction, the coast of 
Australia and New Guinea. 


The volcanoes of Abrim and Tanna, in the New Hebrides, 
Tinahoro, in the archipelago of Santa Cruz, and Semoya, in the 
Salomon Isles, succeeding one after the other, connect the knot of 
the Feejees to the region of the Sunda Islands, where the earth is 
so often agitated by violent shocks. This region may be consid- 
ered as the great focus of the lava streams of our planet. On the 
kind of broken isthmus which connects Australia with the Indo- 
Chinese peninsula, and separates the Pacific Ocean from the great 
Indian seas, one hundred and nine volcanoes are vomiting out lava, 
ashes, or mud in full activity, destroying from time to time the 
towns and the villages which lie upon their slopes ; sometimes, 
in their more terrible explosions, they ultimately explode bodily, 
covering with the dust of their fragments areas of several thou- 
sands of miles in extent. 

From Papua to Sumatra, every large island, including prob- 
ably the almost unknown tracts of Borneo, is pierced with one or 
more volcanic outlets. There are Timor, Flores, Sumbawa, 
Lombok, Bali, and Java, which last has no less than forty-five 
volcanoes, twenty-eight of which are in a state of activity, and, 
lastly, the beautiful island of Sumatra. Then, to the east of 
Borneo Ceram, Amboyna, Gilolo, the volcano of Ternata, sung 
by Camoens, Celebes, Mindanao, Mindoro, and Luzon ; these form 
across the sea, as it were, two great tracks of fire. 

Northward of Luzon, the volcanic ring curves gradually so as 



to follow a direction parallel to the coast of Asia, Formosa, the 
Liou-Kieou archipelago, and other groups of islands stand in a 
line over the submarine volcanic fissure ; farther on, there are the 
numerous volcanoes of Japan, one of which, Fusiyania, with a 
cone of admirable regularity, is looked upon by the inhabitants 
of Niphon as a sacred mountain, from which the gods come down. 
The elongated archipelago of the Kuriles, comprising about a 
dozen volcanic orifices, unites Japan to the peninsula of Kams- 
chatka, in which no less than fourteen volcanoes are reckoned as 
being in full activity. 

To the east of this peninsula, the range of craters suddenly 
changes its direction, and describes a graceful semicircle across the 
Pacific, from Behring Island to the point of Alaska. Thirty-four 
smoking cones stand on this great transversal dike, extending from 
continent to continent. Ounimak, which rises on the extremity 
of the peninsula of Alaska, the peak of which is 7939 feet in 
height, serves as the western limit of the New* World, and is also 
pierced by a crater in a state of full activity. 


Eastward of the peninsula, the volcanic chain extends along 
the seacost of the continent. Mount St. Elias, one of the highest 
summits in America, often vomits lava from its crater, which opens 
at an elevation of 17,716 feet. Farther to the south, another 
active volcano, Mount Fairweather, rises to a height of 14,370 
feet. Next comes Mount Edgecumbe, in Lazarus Island, and 
the volcanic region of British Columbia. The whole chain of the 
Cascades, in Oregon, as well as the parallel ranges of the Sierra 
Nevada and the Rocky Mountains, are overlooked by a great 
number of volcanoes ; but only a few of them continue to throw 
out smoke and ashes : these are Mount Baker, Renier, and St. 
Helens, enormous peaks 10,000 to 16,000 feet high. 

In California and Northern Mexico, it is probable that the 
basaltic and trachtic mountains on the coast no longer present 
outlets of eruption. Subterranean activity is not manifested with 
any degree of violence until we reach the high plateaux of Centra! 


Mexico. There a series of volcanoes, rising over a fissure cross- 
ing the continent, extends over the whole plateau of Anahuac, 
from the Southern Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The Colima, 
then the celebrated Jorullo, which made its appearance in 1759, the 
Nevado de Tolima, Istacihuetl, Popocatepetl, Orizaba, and Tuxtla 
are the vents for the furnace of lava which is boiling beneath 
the Mexican plateau. 

To the south, in Gautemala and the South American repub- 
lics, thirty burning mountains, much more active and terrible than 
those of Anahuac, rise in two chains, one of which is parallel to 
the sea-coast, and the other crosses obliquely the isthmus of 
Nicaragua. Among these numerous volcanoes there are some, 
thenaines of which have become famous on account of the frightful 
disasters which have been caused by their eruptions. Such are 
the mountains del Fuego and del Agua, above the Ciudad-Antigua 
of Gautemala; the Phare d'lsalco, which during the night lights 
up far and wide the plains of Salvador with its jets of molten 
stone and its column of red smoke ; Coseguina, the last great 
eruption of which was probably the most formidable of modern 
times ; the Viejo, Nuevo, Momotombo, and other mountains, which 
are almost worshiped from being so much dreaded. 


The depressions of the isthmuses of Panama and Darien 
interrupt the series of volcanoes which border on the coast of the 
Pacific. The peak of Tolima, which rises to the great height of 
17,716 feet, is the most northern of the active volcanoes of South 
America, and is also one of the most distant from the sea among 
all the fire-vomiting mountains, for the distance from its base 
to the Pacific coast is not less than 124 miles. South of 
Tolima, and the great plateau of Pasto, where there likewise ex *3 
a crater, stands the magnificent group of sixteen volcanoes, some 
already extinct and some still smoking, over which towers the 
proud dome of Chimborazo. 

Occupying an elliptical space, the great axis of which is only 
*bout 112 miles long, this group, comprising the Tunguagua, 


Carahuizo, Cotopaxi, Antisana, Pichincha, Imbabura, and Sangay, 
is often looked upon as but one volcano with several eruptions ; 
it is the cluster which, on the southern coasts of the Isthmus of 
Panama, corresponds symmetrically to the volcanic group of 
Anahuac. South of Sangay, which is perhaps the most destruc- 
tive volcano on the earth, the chain of the Cordelleras offers no 
volcanoes for a length of about 930 miles ; but in Southern Peru 
the volcanic series recommences, and outlets of eruption still in 
action open at intervals among extinct volcanoes and domes of 

The three smoking peaks of the inhabited part of Chili, the 
mountains of Antuco, Villarica, and Osono, terminate the series of 
the great American volcanoes ; the activity of subterranean action 
is, however, disclosed by some other less elevated craters down to 
the extremity of the continent as far as the point of Terra-del- 
Fuego. This is not all ; the South Shetland Islands, situated in 
the Southern Ocean, in a line with the New World, are likewise 
volcanic in their character ; and if the same direction be followed 
toward the polar regions, the line will ultimately touch upon the 
coasts of the land of Victoria, on which rise the two lofty volcanoes 
of Erebus and Mount Terror, discovered by Sir John Ross. 


Stretching round the sphere of the earth, the great volcanic 
circle is extended toward the north by various islets of the antartic, 
and ultimately rejoins the archipelago of New Zealand. Thus is 
completed the great ring of fire which circles round the whole 
surface of the Pacific Ocean. 

Within this ampitheatre of volcanoes a multitude of those 
charming isles, which are scattered in pleiads over the ocean, are 
also of volcanic origin, and many of them can be distinguished 
from afar by their smoking or flaming craters. Of this kind are 
some of the Marianne and Gallapagos Islands, which contain 
several orifices in full activity, and more than two thousand cones 
in a state of repose. Among these we must especially mention 
the Sandwich Islands, the lofty volcanoes of which rise in the 


middle central basin of the North Pacific like so many cones of 
eruption in the midst of a former crater changed into a lake, 

The Mauna-I^oa and Mauna-Kea, the two volcanic summits 
of the island of Hawaii, are each more than 13,000 feet in height ; 
and the eruptions of the first cone, which are still in full activity, 
must be reckoned among the most magnificent spectacles of this 
kind. On the sides of the Mauna-Loa opens the boiling crater of 


Kilauea, which is, without doubt, the most remarkable lava-source 
which exists on our planet. 

Round the circumference of the Indian Ocean the border of 
volcanoes is much less distinct than round the Pacific ; still it is 
possible to recognize some of its elements. To the north of Java 
and Sumatra, the volcanoes of which overlook the eastern portion 
of the basins of the Indian seas, stretches the volcanic archipelago 
of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in which there are several 
cones of eruption in full activity. On the west of Hindostan, the 


peninsula of Kutch, and the delta of the Indus, are often agitated 
by subterranean forces. 

Many mountains on the Arabian coast are nothing but masses 
of lava; and, if various travelers are to be believed, the volcanic 
furnace of these countries is not yet extinct. The Kenia, the great 
mountain of Eastern Africa, has on its own summit a crater still 
in action perhaps the only one which exists on this continent. 
Lastly, a large number of islands which surround the Indian 
Ocean on the west and on the south Socotora, Mauritius, Reunion, 
St Paul, and Amsterdam Islands are nothing but cones of 
eruption, which have gradually emerged from the bed of the 

The volcanic districts which are scattered on the edge of the 
Atlantic are likewise distributed with a kind of symmetry round 
three sides of this great basin. On the north, Jan Mayen, so 
often wrapt in mist, and the more considerable island of Iceland, 
pierced by numerous craters, Hecla, the Skapta-Jokul, the Kotlu- 
gaja, and seventeen other mountains of eruption, separate the 
Atlantic from the Polar Ocean. At about 1500 miles nearer the 
equator the peaks of the Azores, some extinct and some still 
burning, rise out of the sea, 


The archipelago of the Canaries, over which towers the lofty 
mass of the peak of Teyda, continues toward the south the 
volcanic line of the Azores, and is itself prolonged by the smok- 
ing summits of the Cape de Verde Islands. All the other moun- 
tains of lava which spring up from the bed of the Atlantic more 
to the south appear to have completely lost their activity, and on 
the coast itself there is, according to Burton, only one volcano 
still in action that of the Cameroons. With regard to the "line 
of fire" along the western Atlantic, it is developed at the entrance 
of the Caribbean Sea with perfect regularity, like the range of the 
Aleutian Isles. Trinidad, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Do 
minica, Gaudeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, and St. Susta- 
in* arc so many outlets of volcanic force, either through their 


smoking craters or their mud volcanoes, their solfataras or their 
thermal springs. 

North and south of the Antilles, the eastern coast of America 
does not present a single vent of eruption. It is a remarkable 
fact that the two volcanic groups of the Antilles and the Sunda 
Islands are situated exactly at the antipodes one of the other, and 
also in the vicinity of the two poles of flattening, tne existence of 
which on the surface of the globe has been proved by the recent 
calculations of astronomers. More than this, these two great 
volcanic centres, which are undoubtedly the most active on the 
whole earth, flank, one on the west and the other on the east, the 
immense curve of volcanoes which spreads round the Pacific. 


The Mediterranean is not surrounded by a circle of volcanoes ; 
but there, as elsewhere, it is from the midst of the sea, or imme- 
diately on the sea-coast, that the burning mountains rise Etna, 
Vesuvius, Stromboli, Volcano, Epomeo and Santorin. In like 
manner, the volcanoes of niud and gas of the peninsula of Apche- 
ron, and the summit of Demavend, 14,436 feet high, rise at no 
great distance from the Caspian Sea. 

With regard tc the volcanoes of Mongolia the Turfan, which 
is said to be still in action, and the Pe-chan, which, according to 
Chinese authors, vomited forth, up to the seventh century, "fire, 
smoke, and molten stone, which hardened as it cooled" their 
existence is not yet absolutely proved ; but even if these moun- 
tains, situated in the centre of the continent, should be in full 
activity, their phenomena might depend on the vicinity of exten- 
sive sheets of water, for this very region of Asia still possesses a 
large number of lakes, the remnants of a former inland sea, 
almost as vast as the Mediterranean. 

What is the number of volcanoes which are still vomiting forth 
lava during the present period of the earth's vitality ? It is diffi- 
cult to ascertain, for often mountains have seemed for a longtime 
to be extinct ; forests have grown up in their disused craters, and 
their beds of lava have been covered up under a rich carpet of 


vegetation, when suddenly the sleeping force beneath is aroused 
and some fresh volcanic outlet is opened through the ground. 

When Vesuvius woke up from its protracted slumber to 
swallow up Pompeii and the other towns lying round its base, it 
had rested for some centuries, and the Romans looked upon it as 
nothing but a lifeless mountain like the peaks of the Apennines. 
On the other hand, it is very possible that some craters, from which 
steam and jets of gas are still escaping, or which have thrown out 
lava during the historic era, have entered decisively into a period 
of repose, ceasing somehow to maintain their communication with 
the subterranean centre of molten matter. The number of vents 
which serve for the eruption of lava car therefore, be ascertained 
in a merely approximate way. 

Huinboldt enumerates 223 active \ icanoes ; Keith Johnston 
arrives at the larger number of 270, 90 of which are compre- 
hended in the islands and the Pacific " circle of fire ;" but this 
latter estimate is probably too small. To the number of these 
burning mountains, standing nearly all of them on the sea-shore, 
or in the vicinity of some great fresh water basin, must be added 
the salses, or mud-volcanoes, which are also found near large 
sheets of salt water. With regard to the thousands of extinct 
volcanoes which rise in various parts of the interior of the conti- 
nent, geology shows that the sea used formerly to extend round 
their bases. 



of the most decisive arguments wliicli can be used in 
favor of a free communication existing between marine 
basins and volcanic centres is drawn from the large quantities of 
steam which escape from craters during an eruption, and com- 
pose, according to M. Ch. Sainte-Claire Deville, at least 999 
thousandths of the supposed volcanic smoke. During the erup- 
tion of Etna, in 1865, M. Fouque attempted to gauge approxi- 
mately the volume of water which made its escape in a gaseous 
form from the craters of eruption. 

By taking as his scale of comparison the cone which appeared 
to him to emit an average quantity of steam, he found this mass, 
reduced to a liquid state, would be equivalent to about 79 cubic 
yards of water for each general explosion. Now, as these ex- 
plosions took place on the average every four minutes during a 
hundred days, he arrived at the result, that the discharge of 
water during the continuance of the phenomenon might be 
estimated at 2,829,600 cubic yards of water a flow equal to that 
of a permanent stream discharging fifty-five gallons a second. 
Added to this, account ought to have been taken of the enormous 
convolutions of vapor which were constantly issuing from the 
great terminal crater at Etna, and, bending over under the pres- 
sure of the wind, spread out in an immense arch around the 
vault of the sky. 

In great volcanic eruptions it often happens that these clouds 
of steam, becoming suddenly condensed in the higher layers of 
the atmosphere, fall in heavy showers of rain, and form temporary 
torrents on the mountain-side. According to the statements of 
Sir James Ross, the mountain Erebus, of the antarctic land, is 



covered with snow, which it has just vomited forth in the form of 
vapor. It has besides been remarked that the vapor which issues 
from volcanoes is not always warm ; often, according to Pceppig, 
it is of the same temperature as the surrounding air. 

As was said long since by Krug von Nidda, a German savant, 
volcanoes must be looked upon as enormous intermittent springs. 
The basaltic flows may be compared to streams on account of the 
water which they contain. It is probable that most of the lava 
which flows from volcanic fissures owes its mobility to the 
innumerable particles of vapor which fill up all the interstices of 
moving mass. Being composed in great measure of crystals 
already formed in the body of which may be noticed nodules and 
crystals rounded by friction, the lava would be unable to descend 
over the slopes if it were not rendered fluid by its mixture with 
steam ; and the gradual slacking in speed and ultimate stoppage 
of the flow are chiefly caused by the setting free of the gases 
which served as a vehicle to the solid matter. Owing to this 
rapid loss of their humidity, basalts contain in their pores but a 
very slight quantity of water in comparison with other rocks. 
Yet even old lava themselves contain as much as ten to nineteen 
thousandths of water at the edge of the bed, and five to eighteen 
thousandths at the centre. 


The various substances which are produced from craters alst 
tend to show that sea-water has been decomposed in the great 
labaratory of lava. Ordinary salt or chloride of sodium, which 
is the mineral that is most abundant in sea-water, is also that 
which is^deposited tlie first and most plentifully round llie orifices 
of eruption. Sometimes, the scoriae and ashes are covered for a 
vast space with a white efflorescence, which is nothing but com-> 
mon salt ; one might fancy it a shingly beach which had just been 
left by the ebbing tide. After each eruption of Hecla, the Ice- 
landers are in the habit, it is said, of collecting salt on the slopes. 
The lava from the eruption of Frumento, analyzed by M. Fouque. 
contained about thirteen ten thousandths of marine salt. 


Almost all other component parts of sea-water are likewise 
found in the gases and deposits of fnmerolles ; only the salts of 
magnesia have disappeared, bnt still are found under another 
form among the volcanic products. Being decomposed by the 
high temperature, just as they would be in the laboratory of a 
chemist, they go to constitute other bodies. Thus the chloride of 
magnesium is changed into hydrochloric acid and magnesia ; the 
gas escapes in abundance from the fumerolles, while the magne- 
sia remains fixed in the lava. 


As M. Ch. Sainte-Claire Deville was the first to ascertain with 
certainty, four successive periods may be observed in every erup- 
tion, each of which periods assumes a different character, owing 
to the exhalation of certain substances. After the first period, 
remarkable especially for marine salt and the various compounds 
of soda and potash, comes a second in which the temperature is 
lower, and during which brilliantly colored deposits of chloride 
of iron are formed and hydrochloric and sulphurous acids are 
expelled. When the temperature is below 392 (Fahr.), there are 
ammoniacal salts and needles of sulphur, which are found in yel- 
lowish masses on the scoriae of lava. 

Lastly, when the heat of the erupted bodies is below 2I2 C 
(Fahr.), the fumerolles eject nothing but steam, azote> carbonic 
acid and combustible gases. Thus the activity of the exhala- 
tions and deposits is in proportion to the incandescence of the 
lava. At the commencement of the eruption, the orifices throw 
out a large quantity of substances, from marine salt to carbonic 
acid ; but by degrees the power of elaboration weakens simultane- 
ously with the heat, and the gases ejected gradually diminish in 
number, and testify, by their increasing rarity, to the approach- 
ing cessation of volcanic phenomena. In consequence of the differ- 
ence which is presented by the exhalations during the various 
phases of eruptions of lava, observers have, at first sight, thought 
that each volcano was distinguished by emanations peculiar to 
itself. Hydrochloric acid was looked upon as one of the normal 


products of Vesuvius, and sulphurous vapors as more especial 
to Etna. It was stated (with Boussingault) that carbonic acid 
was exhaled especially by the volcanoes of the Andes ; and, with 
Bunsen, it was believed that combustible gases prevailed in the 
eruptions of Hecla. 

In his beautiful investigations into the various chemical 
phenomena presented by Etna and the neighboring volcanic out- 
lets, such as Vesuvius and Stromboli, M. Fouque appears to have 
established as a fact which must be henceforth beyond dispute, 
that the gradual series of these emanations is just that which 
would be produced by the decomposition of sea-water. Added to 
this, we also find in lava iodine and fluorine, both of which we 
should expect to detect in it on account of their presence in sea- 
water. The salts of bromine, of which, however, only a slight 
trace is found in sea-water, have not yet been detected in volcanic 
products, which, no doubt, proceeds from the difficulty which 
chemists have experienced in separating such very small 



The other niattters ejected by eruptions are of terrestrial 
origin, and evidently proceed from rocks reduced by heat to a 
liquid or pasty state; they consist principally of silica and 
alumina, and contain, besides, lime, magnesia, potash, and soda. 
Oxides of iron also enter into the composition of lava, to the extent 
of more than one-tenth, which is a very considerable proportion, 
and warrants us in looking upon the volcanic flows as actual tor- 
rents of iron ore ; sometimes, indeed, this metal appears in a pure 
state. It is to this presence of iroii that lava especially owes its 
reddish color, and the sides of the crater their diversely colored 

Compounds of copper, maganese, cobalt, and lead are also met 
with in lava ; but, in comparison with the iron, they are but of 
slight importance. Lastly, phosjfliates, ammonia, and gases com- 
posed of hydrogen and carbon are discharged during eruptions. 
The presence of these bodies is explained by the enormous pro- 
portion of animal and vegetable matter which is decomposed in 


oea-water. Ehrenberg found the remains of marine animalculae 
in the substances thrown out by volcanoes. 

Is the composition of the lava, and especially that of the vapor 
and gases, the same in those eruptions which take place at a 
great distance from the ocean ? It is probable that, as regards 
this point, considerable differences might be established between 
the products of volcanoes placed on the sea-coast, such as Vesuvius 
and Etna, and those which rise far in the interior of the land, as 
Tolima, Jorullo, and Purace. This comparative study, however, 
which would be calculated to throw light on the chemical phe- 
nomena of deep-lying beds, has as yet been made at only a few 



Eruptions are rare in volcanoes situated far from the coast 
and when they do take place, scientific men do not happen to be 
on the spot to study the course of the occurrence. Popocatepetl, 
one of the most remarkable continental volcanoes, produces a large 
quantity of hydrochloric! acid ; the snow from it, which has a 
very decided muriatic taste, is carried by the rain into the Lake 
of Tezcuco, where, in conjunction with soda, its forms salt. 

When the water, either of sea or rivers, penetrates into the 
crevices of the terrestrial envelope, it gradually increases in tem- 
perature the same as the rocks it passes through. It is well 
known that this increase of heat may be estimated on the average 
at least as regards the external part of the planet, at i (Fahr.) 
for every 54 feet in depth. Following this law, water descending 
to a point 7500 feet below the surface would show, in the southern 
latitudes of Europe, a temperature of about 212 (Fahr.). But it 
would not on this account be converted into steam, but would re- 
main in a liquid state, owing to the enormous pressure which it 
has to undergo from the upper layers. 

According to calculations, which are based, it is true, on 
various hypothetical data, it weuld be at a point more than nine 
miles below the surface of the ground that the expansive force of 
the water would attain sufficient energy to balance the weight of 
the superincumbent liquid masses, and to be suddenly cotfvfcrted 


into steam at a temperature of 800 to 900 (Fahr.). The** ga 
eous masses would then have force to lift a column of water of 
the weight of 1500 atmospheres; if, however, from any cause, 
they can not escape as quickly as they are formed, they exercise 
their pressure in every direction, and ultimately find their way 
from fissure to fissure until they reach the fused rocks which exist 
in the depths. To this incessantly increasing pressure we must, 
therefore, attribute the ascent of the lava into vent-holes of vol- 
canoes, the occurrence of earthquakes, the fusion and the rupture 
of the 'terrestrial crust, and, finally, the violent eruptions of the 
imprisoned fluids. 

But why should the vapor thus pervade the subterranean 
strata and upheave them into volcanic cones, when, by the natural 
effect of its overcoming the columns of water which press it down, 
it ought simply to rise toward the bed of the sea from which it 
descended ? In the present state of science, this is a question to 
which it seems absolutely impossible to give a satisfactory answer, 
and geologists must at least have the merit of candidly acknowl- 
edging their ignorance on this point. 


The discoveries of natural philosophy and chemistry, which 
have been the means of making known to us the enormous activity 
of steam in volcanic eruptions, will doubtless, sooner or later, ex- 
plain to us in what way this activity is exercised in the subter- 
ranean cavities. But at the present time the phenomena which 
are taking place in the interior of our globe are not better known 
to us than the history of the lunar volcanoes. 

Be this as it may, the direct observations which have been 
made on volcanic eruptions have now rendered it a very doubtful 
point whether the lavas of various volcanoes proceed from one 
and the same reservoir of molten matter, or from the supposed 
gre? t central furnace which is said to fill the whole of the interior 
of the planet. Volcanoes which are very close to one another 
show no coincidence in the times of their eruptions, and vomit 
forth at different epochs, lavas which are most dissimilar both in 


appearance and mineralogical composition. These facts would be 
eminently impossible, if the craters were fed from the same 

Etna, the group of the Lipari Isles, and Vesuvius, have often 
been quoted as being volcanic outlets placed upon the same 
fracture of the terrestrial crust ; and it is added, in corroboration 
of this assertion, that a line traced from the Sicilian volcano to 
that of Naples passes through the ever-active furnace of the 
Lipari Isles. Although the mountain of Stromboli, so regular in 
its eruptions, is situated on a line slightly divergent from the 
principal line, and, on the other side, the volcanic isles of Salini, 
Alicudi, and Felicudi tend from east to west, it is possible, and 
even probable, that Vesuvius and Etna are in fact situated on 
fissures of the earth which were once in mutual communication. 
But during the thousands of years in which these great craters 
have been at work, no connection between the r eruptions has 
ever been positively certified. 


Sometimes, as in 1865, Vesuvius vomits forth lava at the 
same time as Etna ; sometimes it is in a state of repose when its 
mighty neighbor is in full eruption, and rouses up when the lava 
of Etna has cooled. There is nothing which affords the slighest 
indication of any law of rhythm or periodicity in the eruptive 
phenomena of the two volcanoes. The inhabitants of Stromboli 
state that, during the winter of 1865, at the moment when the 
sides of Etna were rent, the volcanic impulse manifested itself 
very strongly in their island by stirring up the always agitated 
waves of the lava-crater which commands their vineyards and 

A comparative calm, however, soon succeeded this temporary 
effervescence, and in the adjacent island of Volcano no increase 
of activity was noticed. If the shafts of Etna, Vesuvius, and the 
intervening volcanoes, take their rise in one and the same oceaa 
of liquid lava, all the lower craters must necessarily overflow 
simultaneously with the most elevated. Now s as has often been 


noticed, the lava may ascend to the summit of Etna, at a height 
of 10,827 feet, without a simultaneous flow of rivers of molten 
stone 'from Vesuvius, Stromboli, and Volcano, which are respec- 
tively but one-third, one-fourth, and one-tenth the height of the 
former. In like manner, Kilauea, situated on the sides of Mauna- 
Loa, in the Isle of Hawaii, in no way participates in the eruptions 
of the central crater opening at a point 9800 feet higher up, and 
not more than twelves miles away. 

If there is any present geological connection between the 
volcanoes of one and the same region, it probably must be attrib- 
uted to the fact of their phenomenal depending on the same 
climatic causes, and not because their bases penetrate to one and 
the same ocean of fire. Volcanic orifices are not, therefore, " safety 
valves," for two centers of activity may exist on one mountain 
without their ~ruptions exhibiting the least appearance of 



Isolated as they are amid all the other formations on the 
surface of the earth, lavas appear as if almost independent of the 
rest. Basalts, trachytes, and volcanic ashes, are the comparatively 
modern products which are scarcely met with in the periods 
anterior to the Tertiary age. Only a very small quantity of these 
lavas of eruption has been found in the Secondary and Palaeozoic 
rocks. Formerly, most geologists thought that the granites and 
rocks similar to them had issued from the earth in a pasty or 
liquid state; they looked upon them as the "lavas of the 
past," and believed that these first eruptive rocks were succeeded 
age after age by the diorites, the porphyries, the trap-rocks, then 
by the trachytes and the basalts of our own day, all drawn from 
a constantly increasing depth. 

They thought also that, in the future, when the whole series 
of the present lavas shall have been thrown up to the surface, 
volcanoes would produce other substances as distinct from the 
lavas as the latter are from the granite. Granites, however, differ 
so much from the trachytes and basalts as to render it impossible 
f or us to imagine that they have the same origin; added to which 


the labors of modern savants have proved that, under the action 
of fire, granite and the other rocky masses of the same kind, 
would have been unable to assume the crystalline texture which 
distinguishes them. We are, then, still ignorant how volcanic 
eruptions commenced upon the earth, and how they are connected 
with the other great phenomena which have co-operated in the 
formation of the external strata of the globe. 

Considered singly, each volcano is nothing but a mere orifice, 
temporary or permanent, through which a furnace of lava is 
brought into communication with the surface of the globe. The 
matter thrown out accumulates outside the opening, and gradually 
forms a cone of debris more or less regular in its shape, which 
ultimately attains to considerable dimensions. One flow ot molten 
matter follows another, and thus is gradually formed the skeleton 
of the mountain ; the ashes and stones thrown out by the crater 
accumulate in long slopes ; the volcano simultaneously grows 
wider and higher. 


After a long succession of eruptions, it at last mounts up 
into the clouds, and then into the region of permanent snow. At 
the first outbreak of the volcano the orifice is on the surface of the 
ground ; it is then prolonged like an immense chimney through 
the center of the cone, and each new river of lava which flows 
fiom the summit increases the height of this conduit. Thus the 
highest outlet of Etna opens at an elevation of 10,892 feet above 
the level of the sea ; Teneriffe rises to 12,139 feet ; Mauna-Loa, 
in Hawaii, to 13,943 feet, and, more gigantic still, Sangay and 
Sahama, in the Cordilleras, attain to 18,372 and 23,950 feet in 

This theory of the formation of volcanic mountains by the 
accumulation of lava and other matters cast out of the bosom of 
the earth presents itself quite naturally to one's mind. Most 
savants, from Saussure and Spallanzani down to Virlet, Constant 
Provost, Poulett Scrope and Lyell, have been led, by their inves, 
tigations, to adoot it entirely ? indeed, in the present dar it & 


scarcely disputed. It is true that Humboldt, Leopold von Buch ? 
and, following them, M. Elie de Beaumont, have put forth quite a 
different hypothesis, as to the origin of several volcanoes, such as 
Etna, Vesuvius and the Peak of Teneriffe. 

According to their theory, volcanic mountains do not owe 
their present conformation to the long-continued accumulation of 
lava and ashes, but rather to the sudden upheaval of the terrestrial 
strata. During some revolution of the globe, the pent-up matter 
in the interior suddenly upheaves a portion of the crust of the 
planet into the form of a cone, and opens a funnel-shaped gulf 
between the dislocated strata, thus by one single paroxysm pro- 
ducing lofty mountains, as we now see them. As an important 
instance of a crater thus formed by the upheaval and rupture oi 
the terrestrial strata, Leopold von Buch mentions the enormous 
abyss of the Isle of Palma, known by the natives under the name 
of "Caldron," or Caldera. 


The funnel-shaped cavity is of enormous dimensions, and is 
not less than four or five miles in width on the average ; the 
bottom of it is situated about 2000 feet above the level of the sea. 
Lofty slopes, from 1000 to 2000 feet in height, rise round the vast 
amphitheatre, and abut upon inaccessible cliffs, the upper ledges 
of which reach a total altitude of 5900 to 6900 feet in height. The 
highest point, the Pico-de-los-Muchachos, is covered by snow dur- 
ing the winter months ; and, although it penetrates to regions of 
the atmosphere which are of a very different character from those 
of the rest of the island, the slope that is turned toward the crater 
is so steep that blocks of stone falling from the summit roll down 
into the enclosed hollow. 

The prodigious cavity in the Isle of Palma was, perhaps, the 
most striking instance that Leopold von Buch could bring forward 
in favor of his hypothesis ; nevertheless, the exploration of this 
island, since carried out by Hartung, Lyell and other travelers, 
is very far from confirming the ideas of the illustrious German 
Ideologist The lofty side walls of the hollow appear to be formed 


principally, not of solid lava, which constitute scarcely a quarter 
of the whole mass, but of layers of ashes and scoriae, regularly 
arranged like beds of sand on the incline of a talus. Basalts and 
strata of ashes lie upon one another in the greatest order round 
the inclosed hollow, which would be a fact impossible to compre- 
hend if any sudden upheaval, acting in an upward direction with 
sufficient violence to break the terrestrial crust, had shattered and 
ruptured all the strata, and by a mighty explosion, opened out 
the immense Caldron of Palma. 


Finally, if a phenomenon of this kind had taken place, star- 
formed cracks, like those produced in broken glass, would be 
visible across the thickness of the upheaved strata, and their 
greatest width would be turned toward the crater. Now there are no 
fissures of this kind, and the ravines in the circumference of the 
volcano, which one might perhaps be tempted to confound witt 
actual ruptures of the ground, become wider in proportion as they 
approach the sea. The enormous cavity in Palma is, therefore, a 
crater similar to those of volcanoes of less dimensions. It is, 
however, certain that the Caldera was once both shallower and 
less in extent, for the ashes aud volcanic scoriae are easily carried 
away by the rain, which is swallowed up in the bottom of the 
basin, and has hollowed out for itself a wide drainage channel in. a 
southwest direction. 

M. EHe de Beaumont, as his chief support of Leopold von 
Buch's hypothesis, brought forward the fact that most of the strata 
of lava a section of which may be seen on the sides of Etna, in 
the immense amphitheatre of the Val del Bove -are very sharply 
inclined. The celebrated geologist affirmed that thick sheets of 
molten matter could not run down steep slopes without being ver}? 
soon reduced, in consequence of the acceleration of their speed^ 
into thin layers of irregular scoriae. If this were really the case, 
the position of the thick flows of lava in the Val del Bove must have 
changed since the date of the eruption. It would then be neces- 
sary to admit that they have been violently tilted up after having 


been originally deposited on the soil in sheets, which were either 
horizontal or very gently sloped. 

Nevertheless, the recent observations made by Sir C. Lyell, 
those of Darwin on the cones of the Gallapagos Isles, and of Dana 
on the lava flows of Kilauea ; lastly, the remarks of the Italian 
savants who studied on the spot the volcanic phenomena of 
Vesuvius and Etna, have satisfactorily proved that, in modern 
times, a great number of rivers of lava, and especially that of the 
Val-de-Bove, in 1852 and 1853, have flowed over steep slopes vary- 
ing in inclination from 15 to 40 degrees. It must, besides, be 
understood that the lava which poured over the steepest slopes 
was exactly that portion which, not having experienced any cause 
of delay, or met with any obstacle, in its course, presented layers 
of the most uniform consistence and the most regular action. 


One of the strongest arguments of scientific men in favor of 
the theory of upheaval is, that certain volcanic mountains, 
especially that of Monte-Nuovo, Pouzzoles, and Jorullo, in Mexico, 
had been suddenly raised up by the swellings of the soil. Now the 
unanimous testimony of those who, more than three centuries ago, 
witnessed the eruption of Monte-Nuovo, is, that the earth was cleft 
open, affording an outlet to vapor, ashes, scoriae, and lava, and that 
the hill, very much lower than some of the subordinate cones of 
Etna, gradually rose during four days by the heaping up of the 
matter thrown out. The total volume of this eruption was no 
doubt considerable, but compared with the amount of matter which 
flowed down upon Catania in 1669, or with the rivers of lava from 
Skaptar-Jokul, it is a mass of no great importance. 

Added to this, if the soil was really upheaved, how was it that 
the neighboring kouses were not thrown down, and that the 
colonnade of tke Temple of Neptune, which stands at the foot of 
the mountain, kept its upright position? With regard to Jorullo, 
which rises to a height of more than 1650 feet, the only witnesses 
of this volcano making its first appearance were the Indians, who 
fled away to the neighboring heights, distracted with terror. 


We have, therefore, no authentic testimony on which we can 
base an hypothesis as to any swelling np of the ground in the 
form of a blister. Quite the contrary, the travelers who have 
visited this Mexican volcano since Humboldt have discovered beds 
of lava lying one over the other, as in all other cones of eruption ; 
and more than this, they have also ascertained that none of the 
strata in the ground overlooked by the mountain have been at all 
tilted up. 

It is true enough that local swellings have often been observed 
in the burning matter issuing from the interior of the earth ; in 
many places the lava is pierced by deep caverns, and entire 
mountains especially that of Volcano have so many hollows in 
the rocks on their sides that every step of the climber resounds 
on them as if in a vault. Besides, the lava itself, being a kind of 
impure glass, is so pervaded by bubbles filled with volatile matter 
that, when acted upon by fire, so as to expel the water and the 
gas, it loses on an average, according to Fouqu6, two thirds of its 



But these caverns, these hollows and bubbles, proceed from 
the mixture of the lava with vapor which is liberated with 
difficulty from the viscous mass, or are caused by the longitudinal 
rupture of the strata during an eruption, and can in no way be 
compared to the immense blister-like elevation which would be 
formed by the strata of a whole district being tilted up to a 
height of hundreds, or even thousands, of yards, leaving at 
the summit, between two lines of fracture, room for an immense 

None of these prodigious upheavels have been directly 
observed by geologists, and none of the legends invented by the 
fears of our ancestors, referring to the sudden appearance of vol- 
canic mountains, which have been since confirmed. Lastly, the very 
structure of the peaks which are said to have risen abruptly from 
the midst of the plains testifies to the gradual accumulation of 
material that has issued from the bowels of the earth. It is, there- 
fore, prudent to dismiss definitely an hypothesis which marks 


an important period in the history of geology, but which, for the 
future, can only serve to retard the progress of science. 

As, when the burning matter seeks an outlet, the earth is 
generally cleft open in a straight line, the volcanic orifices are 
frequently distributed somewhat regularly along a fissure, and 
the heaps of erupted matter follow one another like the peaks in 
a mountain chain. In other places, however, the volcanic cones 
rise without any apparent order on ground that is variously cleft, 
just as if a wide surface had been softened in every direction, and 
had thus allowed the molten matter to make its escape, sometimes 
at one point, sometimes at another. From the town of Naples 
which is itself built on a half crater in great part obliterated 
to the Isle of Nisida, which is an old volcano of regular form, the 
Phlegraean Fields presents a remarkable example of this confu- 
sion of craters. 


Some are perfectly rounded, others are broken into, and their 
circle is invaded by the waters of the sea ; grouped, for the most 
part, in irregular clumps, even encroaching upon one another 
and blending their walls, they give to the whole landscape a 
chaotic appearance. As Mr. Poulett Scrope very justly remarks, 
the aspect of the terrestrial surface at this spot reminds one exactly 
of the volcanic districts of the moon, dotted over, as it is, with 

As the type of a region pierced all over with volcanic orifices, 
We may also mention the Ishthmus of Auckland, in New Zealand, 
which Dr. Hockstetter has reckoned, in an area of 230 square 
miles, sixty-one independent volcanoes, 520 to 650 feet in height 
on the average. Some are mere cones of tufa; others are heaps 
of scoriae, or even eruptive hillocks, which have shed out round 
them long flows of lava. At one time the Maori chiefs used to 
intrench themselves in these craters as if in citadels; they 
escarped the outer slopes in terraces, and furnished them with 
palisades. At the present day, the English colonists, having 
become lords of the soil, have constructed their farms and country 


houses on these ancient volcanoes, and are constantly bringing 
the soil under cultivation. 

The Safa, in the Djebel-Hauran, is also a complete chaos of 
hillocks and abysses. On this plateau of 460 square miles, which 
the Arabs call a " portion of hell," almost all the craters open 
on the surface of the ground, and not on the summits of volca- 
noes scattered here and there on the black surface. In every 
direction there may be seen rounded cavities like the vacuities 
formed in scoriae by bubbles of gas, only these cavities are 600 to 
900 feet wide, and 65 to 160 deep. Some are isolated ; some 
either touch or are separated by nothing but narrow walls like 
masses of red or darkish-colored glass. One hardly cares to ven 
ture on these narrow isthmuses, bordered by precipices, and inter- 
sected here and there by fissures. 


The normal form of the volcanoes in which the work of erup- 
tion takes place is that of a slope of debris arranged in a circular 
form round the outlet. Whether the volcano be a mere cone of 
ashes or mud only a few yards high, or rise into the regions of the 
clouds, vomiting streams of lava over an extent of ten or twenty 
miles, it none the less adheres to the regular form so long as the 
eruptive action is maintained in the same channel, and the debris 
thrown out falls equally on the external slopes. 

The beauty of the cone is increased by that of the crater. 
The terminal orifice from which the lava boils out well deserves, 
from the purity of its outline, its Greek name of " cup," and the 
harmony of its curve contrasts most gracefully with the declivity 
of the slope. In some volcanoes the symmetry of the architectural 
lines is so complete that the crater itself contains a cone placed 
exactly in the centre of the cavity, and pierced by a second crater 
in miniature, from, which the vapor makes its escape. 

Volcanoes in which the eruptive action frequently changes its 
position a^ these are the more numerous class do not possess 
this elegance of c utll::r Very often the upheaved lava finds some 
weak place in the walls of &e crater; it hollows them out at first, 


and then, bringing all its weight to bear on the rocks which oppose 
its passage, it ultimately completely breaks down the edge of the 
crater, leaving pernaps anly one side standing. Among the 
European volcanoes, Vesuvius is the best example of these rup- 
tured craters : before A. D. 79, the escarpments of La Somma, 
which now surround with their semicircular rampart the terminal 
cone of Vesuvius, were the real crater. The portion of it which 
no longer exists disappeared, and buried under its debris the towns 
of Herculaneum and Pompeii. 


Active volcanoes, however, never cease to increase in all their 
dimensions, and sooner or later the breach is ultimately repaired ; 
the remains of the former craters are gradually hidden under the 
growing slopes of the central cone. Thus a former crater on 
Etua, which was situated at a point three miles in a straight line 
from the present outlet, at the commencement of the Val del Bove, 
has been gradually obliterated by the lava of successive eruptions ; 
prolonged explorations on the part of MM. Seyell and Walters- 
hausen have been necessary in order to find it out. The normal 
form of Etna is that of a cone of debris placed upon a large dome 
with long slopes, becoming more and more gentle, and descending 
gracefully toward the sea. 

In fact, in most of the eruptions, the lava does not rise as far 
as the great crater, and breaks through the sides of the volcano 
so as to flow laterally over the flanks of Etna. These eruptions, 
succeeding one another in the course of centuries, bring about the 
necessary result of gradually enlarging the dome which consti- 
tutes the mass of the mountain, thus breaking the uniformity of 
the lateral talus. The same thing occurs with regard to Vesuvius 
on the side which faces the seacoast. There, the terminal cone 
stands on a kind of dome, which has been gradually formed by the 
coats of lava running one over the other. If Vesuvius continues to 
be the great volcanic outlet of Italy, and rises gradually into the 
sky by the superposition of lava and ashes, it cannot fail, some time 
or other, to assume a form similar to that of the Sicilian giant. 


The volcanoes which present cones of almost perfect regu- 
larity are those which have their terminal outlet alone in a state 
of activity, and vomit out a large quantity of ashes or other 
matter which glides readily over the slope?3. Among this class of 
mountains, those which attain any considerable elevation are 
distinguished by their majesty from all other peaks. Stromboli, 
although it is not more than 2600 feet in height, is one of the 
wonders of the Mediterranean. From its proud form, it will 
readily be understood that its roots plunge down into the sea to 
an enormous depth ; the slope of debris may be seen, so to speak, 
prolonged under the water down to the abysses of 3000 to 4000 
feet, which the sounding-line has reached at the bottom of the 
^Eolian Sea. 

At sight of it one feels as if suspended in the midst of the 
void, as if the ship was sailing in the air midway up the mountain. 
This feeling of admiration mingled with dread increases when 
this great pharos of the Mediterranean is approached during the 
night over the dark-waved sea. Then the sky above the summit 
seems all lighted up by the reflection of the lava, and a misty 
band of vapor may be dimly seen girdling round the body of the 
volcano. In the daytime the impression made is of a different 
character ; but it is none the less deep, for the real grandeur of 
Stromboli consists not so much in the immensity of the mass as 
in the harmony of its proportions. 


Volcanic mountains of an ideal form are those which infant 
nations have most adored. Among these sacred mountains are 
the sublime Cotopaxi of the Andes, Orizaba of Mexico, Mauna- 
Loa of Hawaii, and Fusi-Yama of Japan. The volcanoes of Java, 
and chiefly those in the eastern portion of the island, also present 
a very majestic appearance oil account of their isolation. 

Those on the western side are based upon an undulating 
plateau, which causes them to lose their appearance of height ; 
but on the east all the volcanic mountains rise up from verdant 
plains like islands above the waves of the sea, and command the 


horizon far and wide with their enormous cones. Between th 
Merapi and Lavoe mountains lies a depression, the highest ledge 
of which exceeds the level of the sea by only 312 feet. Between 
Lavoe and Villis the plain is 230 feet in height. Lastly, the 
plaius which separate the Villis and Keloeet mountains nowhere 
attain an elevation of more than 200 feet above the ocean. 

In the external details of their couformation many of the vol- 


canoes of Java present a regularity of outline which is all the 
more striking, since they owe it in great part to the monsoon 
rains, the most destructive agents of the tropical regions. In 
beating against the mountains, the clouds let fall their burden of 
moisture on the slopes composed of ashes and loose scoriae. The 
latter offer but a slight resistance to the action of the temporary 
torrents which carry them away, and, crumbling down into the 


plains which surround the base of the volcano, are deposited in 
long slopes, like those caused by avalanches. 

In consequence of the fall of all this debris, the sides of the 
mountain are cut out at intervals by ravines or furrows, which 
gradually widen from the summit to the base of the mountains, 
and attain a depth of 200, 600, and 660 feet. There are some 
volcanoes, such as the Sumbing, in which these ravines assume 
so perfect a regularity that the whole mountain, with its equi- 
distant furrows and its intermediate walls, resembles a gigantic 
edifice based upon enormous buttresses, like the nave of a Gothic 



Formerly the beauty of the island and the fury of its 
canoes were the cause of its being altogether dedicated to Siva, 
the god of destruction ; and in the very craters of the burning 
mountains the worshipers of Terror and Death were in the habit 
of building their temples. In many spots the ruins of these sanc- 
tuaries are discovered in the midst of trees and thickets, which 
the Arab conquerors have left to grow in the formidable cavities 
of the volcanoes. Seinerce, the loftiest peak in the island, was 
the sacred mountain par excellence ; the Sumbing, which rises in 
the centre of the island, was the "nail which fastens Java to the 

Even in our own time some faithful followers of Siva inhabit 
a sandy plain, more than four miles wide, which was once the 
crater of the Tengger volcano ; every year they proceed solemnly 
to pour rice on the summit of an eruptive cone, into the roaring 
mouth of the monster. In like manner, in New Zealand, the ever- 
smoking orifice of Tongariro was considered as the only place 
worthy of receiving the dead bodies of their great chiefs : when 
cast into the crater, the heroes went to sleep among the gods. 

But the volcanic divinities, like most of the other rulers in- 
voked by nations, did not content themselves with the fruits of 
the earth or the companionship of a few warriors ; they also de- 
manded blood, both by their subterranean roarings, by their 
thundering eruptions, and their devastating rivers of lava. In- 


numerable sacrifices have been offered to volcanoes to appease 
their anger : impelled by a mingled feeling of fear and ferocity, 
the priests of not a few religions have cast victims with great 
pomp into the gaping hollows of these immense furnaces. 

Scarcely three centuries ago, when the disciples of Christi- 
anity were exterminated over the whole length and breadth of 
Japan, the followers of the new religion were thrown by hundreds 
into one of the craters of the Unsen, one of the most beautiful 
volcanoes of the archipelago ; but this offering to the offended 
gods did not appease their anger, for, toward the end of the 
eighteenth century, this very same mountain and the neighboring 
summits caused by their eruptions one of the most frightful 
disasters of any that are mentioned in the history of volcanoes. 

Actuated by a feeling of dread very similar to that exhibited 
by the Japanese priests, the Christian missionaries in America 
recognized in the burning mountains of the New World not the 
wori: of a god, but that of the devil, and went in procession to the 
edge of the craters to exorcise them. A legend tells how the 
monks of Nicaragua climbed the terrible volcano of Mornotonibo 
in order to quiet it by their conj urations ; but they never returned ; 
the monster swallowed them up. 



T AVA is tlie most important product of the volcanic fires. The 
*-* various kinds of lava differ very much in their external 
appearance, in the color of their substance, and in the variety of 
their crystals, but they are all composed of silicates of alumnia 
or magnesia, combined with protoxide of iron, potash or soda, and 
lime. When the feldspathic minerals predominate, the rock is 
generally of a whitish, grayish or yellowish hue, and receives the 
name of tracl^te. When the lava contains an abundance of crys- 
tals of augite, hornblende, or titaniferous iron, it is heavier, of a 
darker color, and often more compact ; it then takes the generic 
formation of basalt. Numerous varieties, diversely designated 
by geologists, belong to this group. 

Of all the lavas, trachyte is the least fluid in its form. In 
many places rocks of this nature have issued from the earth in a 
pasty state, and have accumulated above the orifice in the shape 
of a dome, "Just like a mass of melted wax," In this way were 
formed the great domes of Auvergne, the Puys de Dome and de 
Sarcouy. In this district the flows of trachytic lava are far inferior 
in length to the basaltic cheires ; the most important do not exceed 
fonr or five miles in length. 

At the present day, eruptions of trachyte are much more rare 
than those of other lavas ; so much so, that certain authors class 
all the trachytic rocks among the formations of anterior ages. It 
is, however, ascertained that most of the American volcanoes and 
those of the Sunda Archipelago vomit out lava of this nature ; the 
last eruptions of the ^Eolian Isles, Lipari and Volcano, likewise 
produced only trachyte and pumice-stone. 

This latter substance resembles certain white, yellow, or 

greenish scoria, which issue like a frothy dross from the furnaces 



of our ire n-works, and is, like the compact trachyte, of a felds- 
pathic nature. Some mountains are almost entirely composed of 
it ; among others, the Monte Bianco of Lipari, which, viewed from 
a distance, appears as if covered with snow. Long white flows, 
like avalanches, fill up all its ravines, from the summit of the 
mountain to the shore of the Mediterranean; the slightest move- 
ment caused by the tread of an animal or a gust of wind detaches 
from the surface of the slope hundreds of stones, which bound 
down to the foot of the incline, and are borne away by the waves 
which bathe the base of the mountain. 

In the southern part of the Tyrrhenean Sea, and especially 
in the vicinity of the Lipari (^Eolian) Islands, the water is some- 
times covered with these floating stones, almost like flakes of 
foam. In the Cordilleras the currents of fresh water convey the 
morsels of pumice to considerable distances. The River Amazon 
drifts down large quantities of pumice as far as its mouth, more 
than 3000 miles from the place where it fell into the river. Bates 
says that the Indians, who live too far away from the volcanoes 
even to know of their existence, assert that these stones, floating 
down the river by the side of their canoes, are surely solidified 


The external appearance of various lavas differs even more 
than their chemical composition. The more or less perfect state 
of fluidity, and the presence in them of a greater or less quantity 
of bubbles of vapor, give a very different texture to rocks which 
are composed of the same elements. Pumice-stone has the 
appearance of sponge; obsidian looks like black glass, and some- 
times it is even semi-transparent. 

It is entirely liquid, and issues from the interior of the earth 
like a stream flowing rapidly over the steeper slopes, and coagu- 
lating slowly in large sheets in the low ground and on the gentle 
inclines whither its own weight has drawn it. The surface of 
obsidian for instance, that of Teneriffe -shines with a vitreous 
glitter ; the cleavage of the rock is clean and sharp. 

Some less degree of fluidity in the current of lava gives it 


sometimes tie appearance of resin ; this is the stone which Is 

called pech stein (pitch-stone). When the rock, issuing in a state 
of fusion from the bosom of the mountain, becomes still cooler, it 
contains innumerable perfectly-formed crystals, and only owes its 
fluidity to the particles of vapor in its pores. The external layer 
of the lava is also immediately covered with scoria which float in 
flakes on the fiery stream. These scoria, too, assume a great variety 
of shapes ; some are mammillated, others are exceedingly rough 
and irregular. 

In the Djebel-Hauran, near the crater of Abu-Ganim, there is 
an infinity of needles of red lava, about a yard high on the average, 
and bent in various directions toward the surface of the plateau ; 
one might often fancy them flames half beaten down under the 
pressure of the wind. According to M. Wetzstein, these strange 
stone needles proceed from an eruption of flaky lava. In the 
vSandwich Islands, and in the Island of Reunion, certain crystals 
of a ferruginous appearance are grouped at the outlet of the crater 
in herbaceous forms of the most curious and sometimes elegant 



Some of the products of the volcano of Mauna-Loa and Kil- 
auea resemble the tow of hemp ! These are the whitish filaments 
which are sometimes carried away by the wind ; the Kanakes used 
to consider them as the hair of Pele, the goddess of fire. 

Among the old basaltic lavas there are some to which the 
name of "basalt" is more specially applied, which present a col- 
umnar disposition with wonderful regularity. These form the 
enormous monuments, much more imposing than those of man, 
which seem as if they had been constructed by giant builders, 
turning their mighty hands to the noble art of architecture, which 
is still practiced, though on a smaller scale, by us their feeble 
descendants. These magnificent colonnades of basalt are every* 
where attributed to giants. 

In Ireland, on the coast of Antrim, the summits of 40,000 
prisms, leveled pretty regularly by the waves of the sea, and 
resembling a vast paved quay, have received the name of the 


Giant's Causeway. In Scotland, the beautiful cave of the Isle of 
Staffa, hollowed out by the action of the waves between two ranges 
of basaltic shafts, is celebrated as the work of Fingal, the demi- 
god. In the Sicilian Sea, the Faraglioni Isles, or Isles of the 
Cyclopes, situated not far from Catania, at the base of Etna, are 
looked upon by tradition as the rocks cast by Polyphemus on the 
ships of Ulysses and his companions. Many of these prisms are 
from 100 to 160 feet high, and are not less than from six to six- 
teen feet in thickness. 

Near Fair Head and the Giant's Causeway some of the shafts 
connected with the perpendicular cliff of the headland are nearly 
400 feet in height. In the Isle of Skye, some of the columns, 
according to M'Culloch's statement, are still higher. On the 
other hand, there are also colonnades in miniature, each shaft of 
which is not more than three quarters of an inch to an inch from 
the summit to the base ; instances of these are found in the basalts 
of the hill of Morven in Scotland. 


Some geologists have thought that basaltic columns could 
not be formed except under the pressure of enormous masses of 
water ; but a comparative study of these rocks in different parts 
of the world has proved that several beds of lava are arranged in 
columns at heights considerably above the level of the sea. in 
this colounade-like formation of lava there is, however, no phe- 
nomenon which is entirely peculiar to basalt. Trachyte, also, 
sometimes assumes this form, and M. Fouque has discovered a 
magnificent instance of it in the island of Milo, in which there is 
a cliff composed of prismatic shafts 320 feet in height. 

Masses of mud when dried in the sun, the alluvium of rivers, 
beds of clay or tufa, and, in general, all matter which, in conse- 
quence of the loss of its moisture, passes from a pasty to a solid 
state, either in a state of nature or in our manufactories and 
dwellings, likewise assume a columnar structure similar to that 
of the basaltic lava. In fact, the entire mass, when gradually 
losing the moisture which swelled out its substance, can not con- 



tract so as to shift the position of all its particles toward the 
centre ; certain points remain fixed, and ronnd each of these the 
contraction of a portion of the mass takes place. 

In basalt, in particular, it is the lower layer which assumes the 
columnar structure, for these alone cool gently enough to allow 
the phenomena of contraction to follow the normal course. The 
highest portion of the mass, being deprived, immediately after its 
issue from the earth, of the caloric and the steam which filled its 
pores, is almost immediately transformed into a more or less 
rough and cracked mass. But this very crust protects the rest of 
the lava against any radiation, and serves as a covering to the 
semi-crystalline columns which, by the continual contraction of 
their particles, are slowly separated from the rest of the mass. 


When a section of a bed of basaltic lava has been laid bare by 
the water of a river, the waves of the ocean, or earthquake, the 
rough stones of the top layers may be seen lying, with or without 
any gradual transition, on a forest of prisms, sometimes rudi- 
mentary in their shape, but often no less regular in their shape 
than if they had been carved out by the hand of man. Most are 
of a hexagonal form ; others, which were probably subject to less 
favorable conditions, have four, five or seven faces ; but all are 
definitely separated from one another by their particles gathering 
round the central axis. 

Mr. Poulett Scrope describes a fact which proves the enormous 
power of this contractile force. The colonnade of Burzet in 
Vivarais, contains numerous nodules of olivine, many of which 
are as large as a man's fist : and, in spite of their extreme hard- 
ness, have been divided into two pieces, each fixed in one of two 
adjacent columns. Although the two corresponding surfaces have 
been polished by the infiltration of water, it is impossible to doubt 
that the two separate portions were not once joined in the same 

As natural philosophers have verified by experiments on 
various viscous substances, basaltic shafts are always formed per- 

19 ITA. 


pendicularly to the surface of refrigeration. Now, this surface 
being inclined, according to the locality, in a diversity of ways, 
the result is, that the columns may assume a great variety of 
direction in their position. Although most of them are vertical, 
on account of the cooling taking place in an upward direction, 
others, as at St. Helena, take a horizontal direction, and resemble 
trunks of trees heaped upon a wood-pile. 

In other places, as at the Coupe d'Ayzac in Auvergne, the 
columns of a denuded cliff are arranged in the form of a fan, so 
as to lean regularly on the wall of the cliff as well as on the 
ground of the valley. At Samoskce, in Hungary, a sheet of 
columnar basalt, very small at its origin, spreads out from the 
top of a rock like the water of a cascade, and hangs suspended 
over a precipice, resembling a cupola which has lost its base. 
Elsewhere masses of basaltic pillars radiate in every direction like 
the weapons in an immense trophy of arms. 


An exact prismatic form, is not, however, the only shape 
assumed by the cooling lava. The phenomenon of contraction 
takes place in different ways, according to the nature of the 
erupted matter, the declivity of the slopes, and all the other sur- 
rounding circumstances. Thus, in consequence of the sinking of 
the rock, most basaltic prisms exhibit at intervals a kind of joint, 
which gives the columns a kind of resemblance to gigantic bam- 
boos. In some lavas the^e joints are so numerous, and the edges 
of the stone are so eaten away by the weather, that the shafts are 
converted into piles of spheroids of a more or less regular form. 

At the volcano of Bertrich, in the Eifel, one might fancy 
them a heap of cheeses; whence comes the name of "Cheese 
Cave," which is given to one of the caverns which opens in the 
flow of the lava. Sometimes, too, crystals scattered about in the 
midst of the mass have served as nuclei to globular concretions 
formed of numerous concentric layers. Lastly, many currents of 
molten matter present a tabular or schistose structure, caused, 
like that of slate, by the pressure of the superincumbent masses. 


Although lava, when cooled, is easy enough to study, it is 
more difficult to observe with any exactitude the molten matter 
immediately on its exit from the craters or fissures ; besides this, 
the opportunities for study which are afforded to savants are 
sometimes very dangerous. Long years often elapse before an 
enquirer can notice at his ease, and without fear of sudden explo- 
sions, the mouths of -jtna or Vesuvius filling up to the brink 
with boiling lava. 

Stromboli is the only volcano in Europe in which this 
phenomenon occurs regularly at closely-recurring intervals, some- 
times of only five minutes, or even more frequently. When an 
observer stands on the highest edge of the crater, he sees, about 
300 feet below him, the waves of a matter which shines like molten 
iron, and tosses and boils up incessantly ; sometimes it swells up 
like an enormous blister, which suddenly bursts, darting forth 
eddies of vapor accompanied by solid fragments. 


For centuries past the lava has never ceased to boil in the 
cavity of Stromboli, and it is but very rarely that a period of even 
a few hours lapses without molten matter overflowing. Thus the 
crater, which, during the day, is white with steam, and during the 
night red with the glare of the lava, has served as a light-house 
for mariners ever since the first vessel ventured upon the 
Tyrrhenian Sea. 

In Nicaragua, to the north of the Great Lake, the volcano of 
Masaya (or u Devil's Mouth M ) presents a spectacle similar to that 
of Stromboli, but grander, and perhaps still more regular, After 
having remained in a state of repose for nearly two centuries, from 
1670 to 1853, the monster which has received the name it bears 
from the frightful turbulence of its burning waves resumed all 
its former activity. In this crater the enormous bubbles of lava, 
which ascend from the bottom of the abyss and throw out a shower 
of burning stones, break forth in a general way every quarter of 
an hour. 

The volcano of Isalco, not fax from Soasonate. in the Slate o* 


San Salvador, is also one of the most curious on account of its 
regularity. Its first breaking out was noticed on the 29th of March, 
1783, and since this date it has almost always continued to increase 
in size by throwing outside its cavity ashes and stones. Some of 
its eruptions, remarkable for their comparative violence, have been 
accompanied by flows of lava ; but, generally, the crater of Isalco 
confines itself to hurling burning matter to a height of 39 to 46 
feet above its crater ; explosions follow one another at intervals of 
every two minutes. The total elevation of the cone of debris above 
the village of Isalco being 735 feet, and the slope of the side of 
the mass being, on the average, 35 degrees, M. von Seebach, one 
of the observers of the volcano, has been able to calculate approxi- 
mately the bulk and regular increase of the mountain. In 1865 
the mass of debris was about 35,000,000 of cubic yards, giving an 
increase of about 491,000 cubic yards every year, or 56 cubic yards 
every hour. The volcano, therefore, might be looked upon as a 
gigantic hour-glass, 


Of all the craters in the world, the one which most astonishes 
those who contemplate it is the crater of Kilauea, in the island of 
Hawaii. This volcanic outlet opens at more than 3900 feet of 
elevation on the sides of the great mountain of Mauna-Loa, which 
is itself crowned by a magnificent funnel-shaped crater 2735 yards 
across from one brink to the other. The elliptical crater of Kilauea 
is no less than three miles in length and seven miles in circumfer- 
ence. The hollow of this abyss is filled by a lake of lava, the 
level of which varies from year to year, sometimes rising and 
sometimes falling like water in a well. 

In a general way, it lies about 600 to 900 feet below the outer 
edge, and, in order to study its details, it is necessary to get on 
to a ledge of black lava which extends round the whole circum- 
ference of the gulf; this is the solidified edge of a former sheet 
of molten matter, similar to those circular benches of ice which, 
in northern countries, border the banks of a lake, and even in 
spring still mark the level the water has sunk from. The surface 


of the sea of fire is generally covered by a thick crust over its 
whole extent ; here and there the red lava-waves spring up like the 
water of a lake through the broken ice. Jets of vapor whistle 
and hiss as they escape, darting out showers of burning scoria, 
and forming cones of ashes on the crust 60 to 100 feet in height, 
which are so many volcanoes in miniature. 

Intense heat radiates from the immense crater, and a kind of 
hot blast makes its way through all the chinks in the vertical 
walls of the sides. In the midst of the hot vapors, one feels as 
if lost in a vast furnace. During the night time au observer 
might fancy himself surrounded with flames ; the atmosphere 
itself, colored by the red reflection of the vent holes of the volcano, 
seems to be all on fire. 


The level or the fire lake of Kilauea is incessantly changing. 
In proportion as fresh lava issues forth from the subterranean 
furnace, the broken crust affords an outlet to other sheets of 
molten matter and fresh heaps of scoria, and gradually the boil- 
ing mass rises from ledge to ledge > and ultimately reaches the 
upper edge of the basin. Sooner or later, however, the level 
rapidly sinks. The fact is, that the burning mass contained in 
the depths of the abyss gradually melts the lower walls of solid 
lava ; these walls ultimately give way at some weak points in 
their circumference, a crevice is produced in the outer face of the 
volcano, and the liquid matter, " drawn off '' like wine from a vat, 
rushes through the opening made for it. 

The flow increases the orifice by the action of its weight on 
the sill of the opening, and by melting the rocks which oppose its 
passage, and then, running down over the slopes, flows into the 
sea, forming promontories on the shore. In 1840 the crater was 
full to the brink, when a crack suddenly opened in the side of the 
mountain. This fissure extended to a distance of 131 feet from 
its stai ting-point, and vomited forth a stream of lava 37 miles 
long and 16 miles wide, which entirely altered the outline of the 
sea-coast, and destroyed all the fish in the adjacent waters. Mr. 


Dana estimated the total mass of this enormons flow as equal ou 
7,200,000 cubic yards that is, to a solid body fifty times as great 
as the quantity of earth dug out in cutting through the Isthmus 

of Suez. 

The enormous basin of Kilauea, 1476 feet deep, remained 
entirely empty for some time, and the former lake of lava left no 
other trace of its existence than a solid ledge like those which 
had been formed at the time of previous emptions. Since this 
date the great cauldron of lava has been several times filled and 
several times emptied, either altogether or in part. 


Almost all the volcanoes which rise to a great height, 
get rid, like Kilauea, of their overflow of lava through fissures 
which open in their side walls. In fact, the column of molten 
matter which the pressure of the gas beneath raises in the 
pipe of the crater is of an enormous weight, and every inch 
it ascends toward the mouth of the crater represents an expense of 
force which seems prodigious. The more or less hypothetical 
calculations which have been made as to the degree of pressure 
necessaiy for the steam to be able to act on the lava-furnace lead 
to the belief that the outlet-conduits of volcanoes, and conse- 
quently the mass of liquid stone to be lifted, are not less than 
nine miles in depth. Various geologists among others Sartorius 
von Waltershausen, the great explorer of Etna believe that the 
volcano-shafts are of a still more considerable depth. The rocks 
of the terrestrial surface, limestone, granite, quartz, or mica, are 
of a specific gravity two and a half times superior to that of water, 
while the planet itself, taken as a whole, weighs nearly five and a 
half times as much as the same mass of distilled water; the density 
of the interior layers must therefore increase from the circum- 
ference to the center. With regard to the proportion of this 
increase, it is established by a calculation, the v/hole responsi- 
bility of which must rest upon its authors. Baron Waltershausen 
has ascertained, by means of a great number of weighings, that the 
lava of Etna and that of Iceland have a specific gravity of 2.911. 


The presumed consequence of this fact is that the rocks 
thrown out by the volcanoes of Sicily and Iceland proceed from a 
depth of seventy-seven to seventy-eight miles (?). Thus the shaft 
which opens at the bottom of the crater of Etna would be no less than 
seventy-seven miles deep, and the lava which boils in this abyss 
would be lifted by a force of 36,000 atmospheres, an idea altogether 
incomprehensible by our feeble imaginations. There would, then, be 
nothing astonishing in the fact that a mass of lava, which is 
sufficiently heavy to balance a pressure of this kind, should, in a 
great many eruptions, melt and break through the weaker parts of 
its walls, instead of ascending some hundreds or thousands of 
feet higher, so as to run out over the edge of the upper crater. 

When the side of the mountain opens, and affords a passage 
to the lava, the fissure is always perceptibly vertical, and those 
which are continued to the summit pass through the very mouth 
of the volcano. In a general way, these fissures of eruption are 
of considerable length, and are sufficiently wide to form an impass- 
able precipice. Before these fissures become obliterated by the lava 
or by other debris such as the snow and earth of avalanches 
they may be traced out by the eye as deep furrows hollowed out 
on the mountain side. 


In 1669 the lateral fissure of ^55tna extended over more than 
two-thirds of the. southern side from the plains of Nicolosi to the 
terminal gulf oi the great crater. In like manner, in the Isle of 
Jan Mayen, the volcano of Beerenberg, 7514 feet high, presents 
from top to bottom a long depression filled up with snow, which is 
nothing else than a fissure of eruption. On other mountains, 
especially in Montserrat, Guadeloupe, and Martinique, these fissures 
have assumed such dimensions that the peaks themselves have 
been completely split in two. 

Through outlets of this kind the lava jets out, first making 
its appearance at the upper part, where the declivity is generally 
steeper, then springing out below on the more gentle slopes of the 
*ower regions of the mountain. 


At the source itself the lava is altogether fluid, and flows with 
considerable speed sometimes, on steep slopes, faster than a 
horse can gallop; but the course of the molten stone soon slackens, 
and the liquid, hitherto dazzling with its light, is covered by 
brown o* red scoria, like those of iron just come out of a 
furnace. These scoria come together, and, combining, soon 
leave no interstices between them beyond narrow vent-holes, 
through which the molten matter escapes. The scoria then form 
a crust, which is incessantly breaking with a metallic noise, but 
gradually consolidates into a perfect tunnel round the river of 
fire ; this is the cheire, thus named on account of the asperities 
which bristle on its surface. 


Any one may safely venture on the arch-shaped crust, although 
only a few inches above the mass in state of fusion, without any 
fear of being burnt, just as in winter we trust ourselves on the 
sheets of ice which cover a running stream. The pressure of the 
lava succeeds in breaking through its shell only at the lower 
parts of its flow, in spots where the waves of burning stone fall 
with all their weight. Then the envelope is suddenly ruptured 
and the mass springs out like water from a sluice, pushing before 
it the resounding scoria, and swelling out gently in the form of 
an enormous blister ; it then again becomes covered with a solid 
crust, which is again broken through by a fresh effort of the 

Thus the river, surrounding itself with dikes, which it con- 
stantly breaks through, gradually descends over the slopes, terrible 
and inexorable, so long as the original stream does not cease to 
flow. The only means of diverting the current is to modify the 
incline in front of it, either by opposing obstacles to it to throw it 
to either side, or by preparing a road for it by digging deep 
trenches, or by opening up above some lateral outlet for the 
pent-up lava. In 1669, at the time of the great eruption which 
threatened to swallow up Catania, all these various means were 
adopted in order to save the town. On one side the inhabitants 


worked at consolidating the rampart, and placed obstacles aero s 
the path of the current to turn it toward the south. 

Other workmen, furnished with shovels and mattocks, ascended 
along the edge of the flow, and, in spite of the resistance offered 
by the peasants, tried to pierce throuh the shell of scoria, and thus, 
by tapping the stream, to open fresh outlets for the molten matter. 
These means of defense partly succeeded, and the terrible current 
which, at its source near Nicolosi, had been able to melt and pierce 
through the volcanic cone of Monpilieri at its thickest point 
(this cone standing in its path) was turned from its course 
toward the centre of Catania, and destroyed nothing but the 

The radiation from the lava being arrested by the crust of 
scoria, which is a very bad conductor of heat, the temperature of the 
air surrounding a flow of lava rises but very slightly. The Neapolitan 
guides have no fear in approaching the Vesuvian lava in order to 
stamp the rough medals made of it, which they sell to foreigners. 
At a distance of a few yards from the vent-holes in the cheire the 
trees of Etna continue to grow and blossom, and some clumps, 
indeed, may be seen flourishing on an islet of vegetable earth lying 
between two branches of a flow of burning lava. And yet, by a 
contrast which at first sight seems incomprehensible, it sometimes 
happens that trees which are distant from any visible flow of 
molten matter suddenly wither and die, 


Thus, in 1852, at the time of the great eruption from the 
Val del Bove, on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna, vineyards 
and vines, covering a considerable area, and situated at a distance 
of more than half a mile below the front of the flow, were sud- 
denly dried up, just as if the blast of a fire had burnt up their 
foliage. In order to explain this curious phenomena, it is neces- 
sary to admit that some rivulets of the great lava river must have 
penetrated under the earth through the fissures of the soil, and 
have filled up a subterranean cavity in the mountain exactly 
below the vineyards that were destroyed ; the roots being- coxs* 


sumed, or deprived of the necessary moisture, the trees them 
selves could not do otherwise than perish. 

On lofty mountains in a state of eruption, the masses of 
snow and ice, which are covered by the fiery currents which issue 
from the volcanic fissures, do not always melt, and some have been 
preserved under the scoria for centuries, or even thousands of 
years. Lyell has discovered them under the lava of Etna, 
American geologists under the masses thrown out by the crater of 
Mount Hookey Darwin under the ashes in Deception Island, in 
the Terra del Fuego, M. Philippi under the flows of the volcano 
Nuevo de Chilian, which in 1861 erupted through a glacier. 

There every bed of snow which falls during the winter 
remains perfect under the coat of burning dust which is ejected 
from the outlet of eruption, and sections made through the mass 
of debris show for a great depth the alternate black and white 
strata of the volcanic ashes and the snow. In 1860 the crater of 
the mountain of Kutlagaya, in Iceland, hurled out simultaneously 
into the air lumps of lava and pieces of ice all intermingled 



In like manner, the immense flows of lava in Iceland have 
left in a perfect state of preservation the trunks of the Sequoias, 
and other American trees, which adorned the surface of the island 
during the ages of the Tertiary epoch, at a time when the mean 
temperature of this country was 48 (Fahr.); that is, 42 to 44 
above that which it is at present. Although the radiation from 
the lava is so slight that it neither melts the ice nor burns the 
trunks of buried trees, yet, on the other hand, the heat and fluidity 
of the lava are maintained in the central part of the flow for a 
very considerable number of years. Travelers state that they 
have found deeply buried lava which was still burning after it had 
remained for a century on the mountain side. 

Although the lava covers up and often preserves the snow 
and the ice, which are doubtless defended against the heat by a 
cushion of spheroidal particles of humidity, it immediately con- 
verts into steam the water with which it comes in contact. The 


liquid mass, being suddenly augmented to about 1800 times its 
former volume, explodes like an enormous bombshell, and hurls 
away, like projectiles, all the objects which surround it. A serious 
occurrence of this kind is recorded, which took place in 1843, a 
few days after the formation of a fissure in Mount Etna, from 
which a current of molten matter issued, making its way toward 
the plain of Bronte. 

A crowd of spectators, who had come from the town, were 
examining from a distance the threatening mass, the peasants 
were cutttng down the trees in the fields, others were carrying off 
in haste the goods from their cottages, when suddenly the 
extremity of the flow was seen to swell up like an enormous 
blister, and then to burst, darting forth in every direction clouds 
of steam and volleys of burning stones. Everything was 
destroyed by this terrible explosion trees, houses and cultivated 
ground ; and it is said that sixty-nine persons, who were knocked 
down by the concussion, perished immediately, or in the space of 

a few hours. 


This disaster was occasioned by the negligence of an agri- 
culturist, who had not emptied the reservoir on his farm ; the 
water, being suddenly converted into steam, had caused the lava 
to explode with all the force of gunpowder. 

The quantity of molten matter which is ejected by a fissure 
in one single eruption is enormous. It is known that the current 
of Kilauea, in 1840, exceeded 6550 millions of cubic yards. That 
which proceeded from Mauna-Loa, in 1835, produced a still larger 
quantity of lava, and extended as far as a point seventy-six miles 
from the crater. Flows of this kind are certainly rare ; but there 
are some recorded in the earth's history which are still more con- 
siderable. Thus the volcano of Skaptar-Jokul, in Iceland, was 
cleft asunder in 1873, and gave vent to two rivers of fire, each of 
which filled up a valley ; one attained a length of fifty miles, 
with a breadth of fifteen miles ; the other was of less dimensions, 
but the depth of the mass was in some places as much as 492 
feet. A subterranean fissure, ninety-nine miles in length, which 


cleaves in two the ground of Iceland, was doubtless filled up with 
lava along its entire length, for hillocks of eruption sprung up 
on various points of this straight line. 

It has been calculated that the whole of the lava evacuated 
by the Skaptar in this great eruption was not less in bulk than 
655,000 millions of cubic yards, a mass equivalent to the whole 
volume of Mont Blanc ; it would be a quantity sufficient to cover 
the whole earth with a film of lava 0.0393 inches in thickness. As 
to the celebrated flow from the Monti Rossi, which threatened to 
destroy Catania, in 1669, it seems very trifling in comparison ; it 
contained a mass of molten stone which was estimated at 1310 
millions of cubic yards. On how trifling a scale, therefore, are 
these ordinary eruptions compared with the surface of the globe 
They are. however, phenomena perceptible enough to man, in all 
hi infinite littleness. 



THE lava swelling up in enormous blisters above the fissures 
from which it flows in a current over the slopes is far from 
being the only substance ejected from volcanic mountains. When 
the pent-up vapor escapes from the crater with a sudden explosion, 
it carries with it lumps of molten matter, which describe their 
curve in the air, and fall at a greater or less distance on the slope 
of the cone, according to the force with which the}^ were ej ected. 

These are the volcanic projectiles, the immense showers of 
which, traced in lines of fire on the dark sky, contribute so much 
during the night time to the magnificent beauty of volcanic erup- 
tions. These projectiles have already become partially cooled by 
their radiation in the air, and when they fall are already solidified 
on the outside, but the inside nucleus remains for a long time 
in a liquid or pasty state. The form of these projectiles is often 
of an almost perfect regularity. 

Each sphere is in this case composed of a series of concentric 
envelopes, which have evidently been arranged in the order of their 
specific gravity during the flight of the projectile through the air. 
The dimensions of these projectiles vary in each eruption ; some 
of them are one or more yards in thickness ; others are nothing 
but mere grains of sand, and are carried by the wind to great 

In most eruptions, these balls of lava, still in a fluid and 
burning state, constitute but a small part of the matter thrown 
out by the mountain. The largest proportion of the stone ejected 
proceeds from the walls of the volcano itself, which break up under 
the pressure of the gas, and fly off in volleys, mingled with the 

of the new eruption,, This is the origin of the dust or 



ashes which some craters vomit out in such large quantities, whici 
too, are the causes of such terrible disasters. 

When the impetus of the gas confines itself to forming a 
fissure in the side of the mountain, the fragments of rocks which 
are broken up and reduced to powder are compratively small in 
quantity. They are projected in clouds out of the fissure, and, 
falling like hail round the orifice, are gradually heaped up in the 
form of a cone on the side of the mountain from which they arose. 
In Europe, the enormous circumference of Etna presents more 
than 700 of these subordinate volcanoes, some scarcely higher than 
an Esquimaux hut, and others, like the Monti Rossi, Monte 
Minardo, Monte Ilici, several hundred yards high, and more than 
half a mile wide at the base. 


There are some which are entirely sterile, or covered only by 
a scanty vegetation of broom, and are marked out by a red, yellow, 
or even black color on the main body of Etna ; those situated on 
the lower slopes are covered with trees or planted with vines, and 
sometimes contain admirable crops in the very cavity on their sum- 
mit. These cones of ashes, springing up like a progeny on the 
vast sides of their mother mountain, give to Etna a singular 
appearance of vital personality and of creative energy. The same 
phenomenon occurs on the volcanoes of Hawaii, which carry on 
their declivities thousands of subordinate cones. 

In the formation of these hillocks a real division of labor takes 
place. The rocks and heavier stones fall either on the edge of the 
crater or in the gulf itself. The ashes and light dust are shot up 
to a much greater height, and, hurried along by the impulse of 
the wind, fall far and wide, like the chaff of corn winnowed in a 
threshing-floor. Thus the slope of the cone toward which the wind 
directs the ashes is always more elongated, and rises to a greater 
height on the edge of the crater. On Etna, where the wind gen- 
erally blows in the direction of west to east, the eastern slope of 
the hillocks is more developed than on the opposite side. It must, 
perhaps, be attributed to the action of the wind blowing on the 


heights, and not, as Siemsen, the geologist, supposes, to the obli- 
quity of the shaft of the crater, that all the scoria and ashes fall 
to the north of the orifice of the volcano Nuevo de Chilian, in 

The phenomena which take place when the ashes issue from 
the mouth of the crater itself do not differ from those which are 
observed at the outlets in fissures. In the former case, however, 
the mass of rocks reduced to powder is so considerable that the 
rain of ashes assumes all the proportions of a cataclysm. It has 
sometimes happened that, during a paroxysm of volcanic energy, 
the whole summit of a mountain, for a depth of several thousands 
of feet, has been hurled into the air, mingled with a cloud of vapor 
and the smoke of burning lava. 

Thus Etna, if we are to believe JSlianus, was once much 
loftier than it is in our time, and on the north of the present 
terminal cone there may, in fact, be noticed a kind of platform 
which seems to have been the base of a summit twice as high as 
the present crest. The whole of the Val del Bove is probably an 
empty space left by the disappearance of a former cone. 


With regard to Vesuvius, it is known that, in the year 79 of 
the present era, the whole of that part of the mountain which was 
turned toward the sea was reduced to powder, and that the debris 
of the cone, nothing of which now remains except the semicircular 
inclosure of La Sornma, buried three towns and a vast extent of 
plain. The ashes and dust, mingled with white vapor rising in 
thick eddies, ascended in a column to a point far above the summit 
of the volcano, until, having reached those regions of the atmos- 
phere where the rarefied air could no longer sustain them, they 
spread out into a wide umbrella-like shape, the falling dust of 
which obscured the sky. 

Pliny the younger compared this vault of ashes and smoke to 
the foliage of an Italian pine curving at an immense height over 
the mountain. Since this memorable epoch the height of the 
column of vapor has been measured which has issued from Vest? 


vius at the time of several great eruptions, and it has been some- 
times found that it reached 23,000 to 26,000 feet ; that is, six times 
higher than the summit of the volcano itself. 

One of these explosions of entire summits which caused most 
terror in modern times was that of the volcano of Coseguina, a 
hillock of about 500 feet high, situated on a promontory to the 
south of the Bay of Fonseca, in Central America. The debris 
hurled into the air spread over the sky in a horrible arch several 
hundreds of miles in width, and covered the plains for a distance 
of 25 miles with a layer of dust at least 16 feet thick. At the 
very foot of the hill the headland advanced 787 feet into the bay, 
and two new islands, formed of ashes and stones falling from the 
volcano, rose in the midst of the water several miles away. 


Beyond the districts close round the crater, the bed of dust, 
which fell gradually, became thinner, but it was carried by the 
wind more than forty degrees of longitude toward the west, and 
the ships sailing in those waters penetrated with difficulty the 
layer of pumice-stone spread out on the sea. To the north, the 
rain of ashes was remarked at Truxillo, Honduras, and at Chiapas, 
in Mexico ; on the south, it reached Carthagena, Santa Martha, 
and other towns of the coast of Grenada ; to the east, being carried 
by the counter current of the trade-winds, it fell on the plains of 
St. Ann's, in Jamaica, at a distance of 800 miles. The area of 
laud and water on which the dust descended must be estimated at 
1,500,000 square miles, and the mass of matter vomited out could 
not be less than 65,500 million cubic yards. 

The uproar of the breaking up of the mountain was heard as 
far as the high plateaux of Bogota, situated 1025 miles away in a 
straight line. While the formidable cloud was settling down 
round the volcano, thick darkness filled the air. For forty-three 
hours nothing could be seen except by the sinister light of the 
flashes darting from the columns of steam, and the red glare of 
the vent holes opening in the mountain. 

To escape from this prolonged night, the rain of ashes, and 


the burning atmosphere, the inhabitants who dwelt at the foot of 
Coseguina fled in all haste along a road running by the black 
water of the Bay of Fonseca. Men, women, children, and domes- 
tic animals travelled painfully along a difficult path, through 
quagmires and marshes. So great, it is said, was the terror of all 
animated beings during this long night of horror, that the ani- 
mals, themselves, such as monkeys, serpents, and birds, joined the 
band of fugitives, as if they recognized in man a being endowed with 
intelligence superior to their own. 

A large number of volcanoes have diminished in height, or 
have, indeed, entirely disappeared, in consequence of explosions, 
which reduced their rocks to powder, and distributed them in thick 
sheets on the ground adjacent. Mount Baker, in California, and 
the Japanese volcano of Unsen, have thus raised the level of the 
surrounding plains at the expense of a diminution in their own 
volume. In 1638, the summit of the peak of Timor, which might 
be seen like a light-house from a distance of 270 miles, exploded, 
and blew up into the air, and the water collecting, formed a lake 
in the enormous void caused by the explosion. 


In 1815, Timboro, a volcano in the island of Sumbara, de- 
stroyed more men than the artillery of both of the armies engaged 
on the battle-field of Waterloo. In the island of Sumatra, 550 
miles to the west, the terrible explosion was heard, and, for a 
radius of 300 miles round the mountain, a thick cloud of ashes, 
which obscured the sun, made it dark like night even at noonday. 
This immense quantity of debris, the whole mass of which was, it 
is said, equivalent to thrice the bulk of Mont Blanc, fell over an 
area larger than that of Germany. 

The pumice-stone which floated in the sea was more than a 
yard in thickness, and it was with some difficulty that ships could 
make their way through it. The popular imagination was so deeply 
impressed by this cataclysm, that at Bruni, in the island of 
Borneo, whither heaps of the dust vomited out by Timboro, 

870 miles away to the south, had been carried by the wind, they 
20 ITA. 


date their years from " the great fall of ashes." It is the com- 
mencement of an era for the inhabitants of Bruni, just as the 
flight of Mohammed was for the Mussulmans. 

The friction of the steam against the innumerable particles 
of solid matter which are darted out into the air is the principal 
cause of the electricity which is developed so plentifully during 
most volcanic eruptions. In consequence of this friction, which 
operates simultaneously at all points in the atmosphere which 
are reached by the volcanic ashes, and vapor, sparks flash out 
which are developed into lightning*. The skies are lighted up 
not only by the reflection from the lava, but also by coruscations 
of light which dart from amid the clouds. 

When the vast canopy of vapor spreads over the summit of 
the mountains, numerous spirals of fire whirl round on each sic e 
of the clouds, which, as they unroll, resemble the foliage of a 
gigantic tree. Doubtless, also, the encounter of two aerial cur- 
rents may contribute to produce lightning in the columns of 
vapor ; yet, when the latter are slightly mingled with ashes, they 
are rarely stormy. 


Although the evolution of electricity in the columns of vapor 
and ashes vomited out by volcanoes has never been called in 
question, the appearance of actual flames at the time of volcanic 
eruptions was for a long time disputed. M. Sartorius von Wal- 
tershausen, the patient observer of Etna, has maintained that 
neither this mountain, nor Stromboli, nor any other volcano, has 
ever presented among its phenomena any fire properly so called, 
and that the supposed flames were nothing more than the reflec- 
tion of the red or white lava that was boiling in the crater. 

On the other hand, Elie de Beaumont, Abich and Pilla posi- 
tively assert that they have seen light flames on the summit of 
Vesuvius and Etna. It would, however, be very natural to believe 
that inflammable gases might be liberated and take fire at the 
outlet of those immense shafts which place the great subterra- 
nean laboratory of lava in communication with the outer air. 


This question was, however, resolved in the affirmative at 
the time of the eruption of Santorin, and popular opinion was 
right in opposition to most men of science. All those who were 
able to witness, at its commencement, the upheaval of the lava at 
Cape Georges and Aphroessa, have certified to the appearance of 
burning gas dancing above the lava, and even on the surface of 
the sea. All round the upheaved hillocks, bubbles of gas, break- 
ing forth from the waves, became kindled as they came in contact 
with the burning mass, and were diffused over the water in long 
trains of white, red or greenish flames, which the breeze alter- 
nately raised or beat down ; sometimes a smart puff of wind put 
out the fire, but it soon recommenced to run over the breakers ; 
by approaching it carefully, fragments of paper might be burnt 
in it. which lighted as they dropped. On the slopes of the volcano 
of Aphroessa fire, rendered of a yellowish hue by salts of soda, 
sprung out from all the fissures, and rose to a height of several 
yards. On the rather older lava of Cape Georges the trains of 
flame were less numerous ; there, however, bluish glimmers 
might be seen flitting about in some spots over the black ridges 

of lava. 


Added to this, are not the flames at Bakou, on the coast of 
the Caspian Sea, produced by the volcanic action of the ground ? 
The " growing mountains " in the neighborhood are mud-vol- 
canoes, and we must doubtless attribute to the same subterranean 
activity the production of the hydrogen gas which burns in an 
" eternal flame " in the temple of the Parsi. During some of the 
evenings in autumn, when the weather is fine and the sun has 
heated the surface of the ground, the flames occasionally make 
their appearance on the hills, and for several hours may be seen 
the marvelous spectacle of a train of fire stretching along the 
country without burning the ground, and even without scorching 
a blade of grass. 

Next to lava and ashes, streams of water and mud are the 
most considerable products of volcanic activity, and the catas- 
trophes which they have caused are perhaps among the most terri- 


ble which history has to relate. By means of these sudden deluges, 
towns have been swept away or swallowed up, whole districts dotted 
over with habitations have been flooded with mud or converted 
into marshes, and the entire face of nature has been changed in 
the space of a few hours. 

The liquid masses which descend rapidly from the mountain 
height do not always proceed from the volcano itself. Thus the 
local deluge may be caused by a rapid condensation of large quan- 
tities of steam which escape from the crater and fall in torrents on 
the slopes. A phenomenon of this kind must evidently take 
place in a great many cases, and it was doubtless by a cataclysm 
of this kind that the town of Herculaneum, at the foot of Vesuvius, 
was buried. 


As regards the lofty snow-clad volcanoes of the tropical and 
temperate zones, and also those of the frozen regions, the torrents 
of water and debris the " water-la va," as the Sicilians call them 
may be explained by the rapid melting of immense masses of 
snow and ice, with which the burning lava, the hot ashes, or the 
gaseous emanations of the volcanic furnace have come in contact. 
Thus, in Iceland, after each eruption, formidable deluges, carry- 
ing with them ice, scoria, and rocks, suddenly rush down into the 
valleys, sweeping away everything in their course. 

These liquid avalanches are the most terrible phenomena 
which the inhabitants of the island have to dread. They show 
three headlands formed of debris, which the body of water descend- 
ing from the sides of Kutlugaya in 1766 threw out far into the sea, 
ill a depth of 246 feet of water. 

Other deluges no less formidable are caused by the rupture 
of the walls which pen back a lake in the cavity of a former cra- 
ter, or by the formation of a fissure which affords an outlet to 
liquid masses contained in subterranean reservoirs. It would be 
too difficult to explain otherwise the mud-eruptions of several 
trachytic volcanoes of the Andes Imbambaru, Cotopaxi, and 
^arahuarizo. In fact, the mud which comes down from thes* 


mountains often contains a large quantity of organized beings, 
aquatic plants, infusoria, and even fish, which could only have 
lived in the calm waters of the lake. 

Of this kind is the Pimelodes cyclopum, a little fish of the 
tribe of the Silurda, which, according to Humboldt, has hitherto 
been found nowhere except in the Andini caverns and in the rivu- 
lets of the plateau of Quito. In 1691 the volcano of Imbambaru 
vomited out, in combination with mud and snow, so large a quan- 
tity of these remains of organisms that the air was contaminated 
by them, and miasmatic fevers prevailed in all the country round. 
The masses of water which thus rush down suddenly into the 
plains amount sometimes to millions, or even thousands of millions 
of cubic yards. 


Although, in some cases, these eruptions of mud and water 
may be looked upon as accidental phenomena, they must, on the 
contrary, as regards many volcanoes, be considered as the result 
of the normal action of the subterranean forces. They are, then, 
the waters of the sea or of lakes which, having been buried in the 
earth, again make their appearance on the surface, mingled with 
rocks which they have dissolved or reduced to a pasty state. 

A remarkable instance of these liquid eruptions is that pre- 
sented by Papandayang, one of the most active volcanoes in Java. 
In 1792 this mountain burst, the summit was converted into dust 
and disappeared, and the debris, spreading far and wide, buried 
forty villages. Since this epoch a copious rivulet gushes out in the 
very mouth of the crater, at a height of 7710 feet, and runs down 
into the plain, leaping over the blocks of trachyte. Round the spring 
pools of water fill all the clefts in the rocks, and boil up inces. 
santly under the action of the hot vapors which rise in bubbles 
here and there are funnel-shaped cavities, in which black and 
muddy water constantly ascends and sinks with the same regu- 
larity as the waves of the sea ; elsewhere muddy masses slowly 
issuing from small craters flow in circular slopes over mounds of 
a few inches or a yard in height ; lastly, jets of steam dart out of 


all the fissures with a shrill noise, making the ground tremble 
with the shock. 

All these various noises, the roaring of the cascades the ex- 
plosion of the gaseous springs, the hoarse murmur of the mud- 
volcanoes, the shrill hissing of the fumaroles, produce an inde- 
scribable uproar, which is audible far away in the plains, which, 
too, has given to the volcano its name of Papandayang, or " Forge," 
as if one could incessantly hear the mighty blast of the flames and 
the ever-recurring beating of the anvils. 

ID volcanoes of a great height it is rarely found that erup- 
tions of water and mud are constant, as in the Papandayang ; but 
temporary ejections of liquid masses are frequent, and there are, 
indeed, some volcanoes which vomit out nothing but muddy matter. 
The volcano of Aqua (or water), the cone of which is gently in- 
clined like that of ^Etna, and rises to about 13,000 feet in height, 
into the regions of snow, has never vomited anything but water; 
and it is, indeed, stated that lava and other volcanic products are 
entirely wanting on its slopes. 


Yet in 1541, this prodigious intermittent spring hurled into 
the air its terminal point and poured over the plains at its base, 
and over the town of Guatemala, so large a quantity of water, 
mingled with stones and debris, that the inhabitants were com- 
pelled to fly with the greatest haste, and to reconstruct their 
capital at the foot of the volcano of Fuego. This new neighbor, 
however, showed that he was as much or more to be dreaded than 
their former one, for the violent eruptions from the mountain 
compelled the inhabitants of the second town to again migrate 
and to rebuild their capital at a point twenty miles to the north- 

Several volcanoes in Java and the Philippines also give vent 
during their eruptions, to large quantities of mud, sometimes 
mingled with organic matter in such considerable proportions that 
they have been utilized for fuel. In 1793, a few months after the 
terrible eruption of Unsen, in the island of Kiousiou, an adjacent 


volcano, the Miyi-Yama, vomited, according to Kampfer, so pro- 
digious a quantity of water and mud that all the neighboring 
plains were inundated, and 53,000 people were drowned in the 
deluge ; unfortunately, we have no historical details of this catas- 
trophe. Of all the eruptions of mud, the best known is that of 
Tunguragua, a volcano in Ecuador, which rises to the south of 
Quito to 16,400 feet in height. 

In 1797, at the time of the earthquake of Riobamba, a whole 
side of the mountain sank in the downfall, with the forests which 
grew on it ; at the same time, a flow of viscous mud issued from the 
fissures at its base, and rushed down into the valleys. One of 
these currents of mud filled up a winding defile, which separated 
two mountains, to a depth of 650 feet, over a width of more than 
1000 feet, and damming up the rivulets at their outlet from the 
side valleys, kept back the water in temporary lakes ; one of these 
sheets of water remained for eighty-seven days. 


The volcanic mud, therefore, has this point of resemblance 
with the lava that it sometimes flows out through the crater, as 
on Papandayang ; sometimes through side craters, as on Tungu- 
ragua. Doubtless, when the volcanic muds have been better 
studied, we shall be enabled to trace the transition which takes 
place by almost imperceptible degrees between the more or less 
impure water escaping from volcanoes, and the burning lava more 
or less charged with steam. This transition is, however, already 
noticed in the ancient matter which the water has carried down 
and deposited in the strata at the foot of volcanic mountains. 
These rocks, known under the name of tufa, trass, or perperino, 
are nothing but heaps of pumice, scoria, ashes, and mud, 
cemented together by the water into a species of mortar or con- 
glomerate, and gradually solidified by the evaporation of the 
humidity which they contained. 

Of this kind, for instance, is the hardened stone which, for 
eighteen centuries, has covered the city of Herculaneum with a 
a layer of 50 to 150 feet in thickness. Among rocks of various 


formations, there are but few which exhibit a more astonishing 
diversity than the tufas. They differ entirely in appearance and 
physical qualities, according to the nature of the materials which 
have formed them, the quantity of water which has cemented 
them, the greater or less rapidity with which their fall and desi- 
cation take place; lastly, the number and distribution of the 
chinks which are produced across the dried mass, and have been 
filled up with the most different substances. Many kinds of tufa 
resemble the most beautiful marble. 


The small hillocks, which are specially called mud-volcanoes, 
or salses, on account of the salts which are frequently deposited 
by their waters, are cones which differ only in their dimensions 
from the mighty volcanoes of Java or the Andes. Like these 
great mountains, they shake the ground, and rend it, in order to 
discharge their pent-up matter ; they emit gas and steam in 
abundance, add to their slopes by their own debris, shift their 
places, change their craters, throw off their summits in their 
explosions ; lastly, some of these salses are incessantly at work, 
while others have periods of repose and activity. In nature, 
transitions merge into one another so perfectly, that it is difficult to 
discover any essential difference between a volcano and a salse, 
and between the latter and a thermal spring. 

Mud-volcanoes exist in considerable numbers on the surface 
of the earth, and, like the volcanoes of lava, the neighborhood of 
the sea-coast is the principal locality where we find their little 
cones. In Europe, the most remarkable are those which are situ- 
ated at the two extremities of the Caucasus, on the coasts of the 
Caspian Sea, and on both sides of the Straits of Yenikale, which 
connect the Sea of Azof with the Black Sea. On the east, the 
mud-springs of Bakou are especially distinguished by their com- 
bination with inflammable gases ; on the west, those of Taman 
an'* Kertch flow all the year round, but especially during times 
ot drought, pouring out large quantities of blackish inud. One 
af these mud-volcanoes, the Gorela, or Kuku-Oba, which, in the 


time of Pallas, was called the "Hell," or Prekla, on account of its 
frequent eruptions, is no less than 246 feet in height, and from 
this crater, which is perfectly distinct, muddy streams have flowed 
one of wnich was 2624 feet long, and contained about 850,000 
cubic yards. 

The volcanitos of Turbaco, described by Humboldt, and the 
maccalube of Girgenti, which have been explored, since Dolomieu, 
by most European savants who have devoted themselves to the 
study of subterranean forces, are also well-known examples o* 
mud-springs, and may serve as a type to all the hillocks of the 
same character. In winter, after a long course of rains, the plain 
is a surface of mud and water forming a kind of boiling paste, 
from which steam makes its escape with a whistling noise ; but 
the warmth of spring and summer hardens this clay into a thick 
crust, which the steam breaks through at various points and 
covers with increasing hillocks. At the apex of these cones a 
bubble of gas swells up the mud like a blister, and then bursts it, 
the semi-liquid flowing in a thin coat over the mound ; then a fresh 
bubble ejects more mud, which spreads over the first layer already 
become hard, and this action continues incessantly until the rains 
of winter again wash away all the cones. 


This is the ordinary course of action of the salse, sometimes 
interrupted by violent eruptions. On the coast of Mekran the 
mud-volcanoes are not only subject to the action of the seasons, 
but also depend on the action of the tides, although many of them 
are from 9 to 12 miles from the Indian Ocean. At the time of the 
flow the mud rises in great bubbles, accompanied by a hoarse mur- 
mur, like the distant roar of thunder. The highest cone is not 
more than 246 feet high, and stands seven miles from the shore. 

In a general way, the expulsion of mud and gas is accom- 
panied by a discharge of heat, but in some salses, like those of 
Mekran, the matter ejected is not higher in temperature than the 
surrounding air, as if the expulsion of the mud from the ground 
was an entirely superficial phenomenon. Occasionally, in peat 


bogs, the ground cracks and cold mud is ejected from the fissure \ 
and then, after this kind of eruption, the spongy soil sinks and 
again levels down. Is this eruptive phenomenon similar to that 
presented by the mud volcanoes, and caused by the fermentation 
of gases in the midst of substances in a state of putrefaction ? 
This is M. Otto Volger's idea ; and it would be difficult to give 
any other explanation of the phenomenon. 



\ 7OLCANOES, both of lava and mud, all have, either on theit 
* sides or in the vicinity of their base, thermal springs, which 
afford an outlet to their surplus water, gas, and vapor. Most even 
of those mountains which are at present tranquil, but which were 
once centres of eruption, continue to manifest their activity by 
vapors and gas, like furnaces in which the flames are extinct, but 
the smoke is still rising. Although lava and ashes no longer 
make their escape from the crater of lateral fissures, yet numer- 
ous hot springs, formed by the condensation of the steam, gen- 
erally serve as a vehicle for the gas pent up in the depths of the 

We may reckon by hundreds and thousands the "geysers," 
the a vinegar springs," and other thermal springs in countries 
once burning with volcanoes, the fires of which are extinct, or at 
least quieted down for a period more or less protracted. Thus the 
former volcanoes of Auvergne ; the mountains of the Eifel, on the 
Rhine, the craters of which contain nothing but lakes or pools; 
the Dernavend, with its mouth filled up with snow all still exhale 
here and there, through springs, as it were, a feeble breath of their 
once mighty vitality. 

The volcanic regions of the earth where thermal springs gush 
out, are very numerous. In Europe we have Sicily, Iceland, Tus- 
cany, and the peninsula of Kertch, and Yellowstone Park, in 
America land so rich in volcanoes the springs warmed by sub- 
terranean vapor are still more numerous, and there are some 
on the sides of the volcano Nuevo del Chilian which gush out 
through a thick bed of perpetual snow. 

A lateral gorge of the valley of Napa, in California, called the 
" Devil's Canyon," may be quoted as one of the most striking exam- 
ples of the active production of thermal waters. The narrow 



ravine, filled with vapor rising in eddies, opens on the side of a 
red and bare mountain, that one might fancy was scorched by fire. 
The entr} T to the ravine follows the course of a rivulet, the boiling 
waters of which are mingled with chemical substances horrible to 
the taste. Innumerable springs some sulphurous, others charged 
with alum or salt gush out at the base of the rocks. There are 
both warm and cold springs, and hot and boiling ; some are blue 
and transparent, others white, yellow or red with ochre. In a 
cavity which is called the " Sorcerers' Caldron" a mass of black 
and fetid mud boils up in great bubbles. 

Higher up, the "Devil's Steam-boat " darts out jets of gas- 
eous matter, which issue puffing from a wall of rock : fumerolles 
may be seen by hundreds on the sides of the mountain. All these 
various agents either murmur, whistle, rumble or roar, and thus 
a tempest of deafening sounds incessantly fills the gorge. The 
burning ground, composed of a clayey mud in oue spot yellow 
with sulphur, and in another white with chalk gives way under 
the feet of the traveler who ventures on it, and gives vent to puffs 
of vapoi through its numberless cracks. The whole gorge appears 
to be the common outlet of numerous reservoirs of various mineral 
waters, all heated by some great volcanic furnace. 


The ravine of Infernillo (Little Hell), which is situated at 
the base of the volcano of San Vincente, in the centre of the 
Republic of San Salvador, presents phenomena similar to those 
of the ''Devil's Canyon." There, too, a multitude of streams of 
boiling water gush from the soil, which is calcined like a brick, 
and eddies of vapor spring from the fissures of the rock with a 
noise like the shrill whistle of a locomotive. The most consider- 
able body of water issues from a fissure 32 feet in width which 
opens under a bed of volcanic rocks at a slight elevation above 
the bottom of the valley. 

The liquid stream, partially hidden by the clouds of vapor 
which rise from it, is shut out to a distance of 130 feet as if by a 
force-pump, and the whistling of the water pent up between the 


rocks reminds one of the furnace of a manufactory at full work. 
One might fancy that it was the respiration of some prodigious 
being hidden under the mountain. 

The hottest springs which gush out on the surface of the 
ground, such as those of Las Trincheras and Comangillas, do not 
reach the temperature of 212 (Fahr.); but we have no right to 
conclude from this that the water in the interior of the earth does 
not rise to a much more considerable heat. It is, on the contrary, 
certain that water descending into the deepest fissures of the 
earth although still maintaining a liquid state, may reach, inde- 
pendently of any volcanic action, a temperature of several 
hundred degrees ; being compressed by the liquid masses above 
it, it is not converted into steam. At a depth which is not cer- 
tainly known, but which various savants have approximately 
fixed at 49,000 feet, water of a temperature exceeding 750 (Fahr.) 
ultimately attains elasticity sufficient to overcome the formidable 
weight of 1500 atmospheres which presses on it ; it changes into 
steam, and in this new form mounts to the surface of the earth 
through the fissures of the rocks. 


Even if this steam, passing through beds of a gradually 
decreasing temperature, is again condensed and runs back again 
in the form of water, still it heats the liquid which surrounds it, 
and increases its elasticity ; it consequently assists the genera- 
tion of fresh jets of steam, which likewise rise toward the uppei 
regions, Thus, step by step, water is converted into steam up to 
the very surface of the earth, and springs out from fissures. 

In Iceland, California, New Zealand and several other vo? 
canic regions of the world, jets of steam mingled with boiling water 
are so considerable as to rank among the most astonishing phe- 
nomena of the planet. The most celebrated, and certainly the 
most beautiful, of all these springs is the Great Geyser of Iceland. 
Seen from afar, light vapors, creeping over the low plain at the 
foot of the mountain of Blafell, point out the situation of the jet of 
w^ter and of the neighboring springs. The basin of siliceous stone 


which the Geyser itself has formed during the lapse of centuries 
is no less than fifty-two feet in width, and serves as the outei 
inclosure of a funnel-shaped cavity, seventy-five feet deep, from 
the bottom of which rise the water and steam. A thin liquid sheet 
flows over the edges of the basin, and descends in little cascades 
over the outer slope. 

The cold air lowers the temperature of the water on the sur- 
face, but the heat increases more and more in all the layers 
beneath ; every here and there bubbles are formed at the bottom 
of the water, and burst when they emerge into the air. Soon 
bodies of steam rise in clouds in the green and transparent water, 
but, meeting the colder masses on the surface, they again con- 
dense. Ultimately they make their way into the basin, and 
cause the water to bubble up ; steam rises in different places from 
the liquid sheet, and the temperature of the whole basin reaches 
the boiling-point ; the surface swells up in foamy heaps, and 
the ground trembles and roars with a stifled sound. The cauldron 
constantly gives vent to clouds of vapor, which sometimes gather 
round the basin, and sometimes are cleared away by the wind. 


At intervals, a few moments of silence succeed to the 
noise of the steam. Suddenly the resistance is overcome, the 
enoimous jet leaps out with a crash, and, like a pillar of glitter- 
ing marble, shoots up more than 100 feet in the air. A second 
and then a third jet rapidly follow; but the magnificent spectacle 
lasts but fora few minutes. The steain blows away] the water, now 
cooled, falls in and round tuc ^asin ; and for hours, or even 
days, a fresh eruption may be waited for in vain. Leaning over 
the edge of the hole whence such a storm of foam and water has 
just issued, and looking at the blue, transparent, and scarcely- 
rippled surface, one can hardly believe, says Bunsen, in the sud- 
den change which has taken place. 

The slight deposits of siliceous matter which are left by the 
evaporation of the boiling water have already formed a conical 
hillock round the spring, and, sooner or later, the increasing curb 


of stone will have so considerably augmented the pressure of the 
liquid mass in the spring that the waters must ultimately open a 
fresh outlet beyond the present cone. From the experiments and 
observations made by Forbes as to the formation of the layer of 
incrustations round the jet, this spring must have commencd its 
eruptions ten centuries and a half ago, and they will probably 
cease in a much shorter space of time. 

Not far from the Geyser, the mound of deposits from which 
is not less than 39 feet in height, there are a number of pools 
which once acted as basins for springs which gushed up through 
them, but are now nothing but cisterns filled with blue and limpid 
water, at the bottom of which may be seen the mouth of a former 
channel of eruption. A shifting in the position of the centre of 
activity takes place in the Geyser, just as in mud volcanoes and 
incrusting springs. Several springs lying on the same terrestrial 
fissure as the great jet d'eau, the Strokkr, the Small Geyser, and 
some others, present phenomena which are nearly similar, and are 
evidently subject to the action of the same forces. 


The vicinity of the active volcanoes of Iceland warrants us, 
however, in supposing that the water produced by the melting of 
the snow on Blafell does not require to descend many thousands of 
yards into the earth in order to be converted into steam. There 
is no doubt that, at no very great depth below the surface, they 
come in contact with burning lava, which gives them their high 
temperature. By reproducing in miniature all the conditions 
which are thought to apply to the Icelandic springs that is, by 
heating the bases of tubes of iron filled with water and sur- 
mounted by a basin Tyndall succeeded in producing in his labora- 
tory charming little geysers, which jetted out every five minutes. 

About the centre of the northern Island of New Zealand the 
activity of the volcanic springs is manifested still more remark- 
ably even than in Iceland. On the slightly winding line of fissure 
which extends from the southwest to the northeast, between the 
ever active volcano of Tongariro and the smoking island of 


Whakari, in Plenty Bay, thermal springs, mud fountains, and 
geysers rise in more than a thousand places, and in some spots 
combine to form considerable lakes. 

In some localities the hot vapors make their escape from the 
sides of the mountains in such abundance that the soil is reduced 
to a soft state over vast surfaces, and flows down slowly to the 
plains in long beds of mud. For a distance of more than a mile 
a portion of the Lake of Taupo boils and smokes as if it was 
heated by a subterreanean fire, and the temperature of its water 
reaches, on the average to 100 (Fahr.). Farther to the north, the 
two sides of the valley, through which flows the impetuous rivei 
of Waikato after its issue from Lake Taupo, present, for more 
than a mile, so large a number of water jets, that in one spot as 
many as seventy-six are counted. These geysers, which rise to 
various heights, play alternately, as if obeying a kind of rhythm 
in their successive appearances and disappearances. 

While one springs out of the ground, falling back into its 
basin in a graceful curve bent by the wind, another ceases to 
jet out. In one spot a whole series of jets suddenly become 
quiet, and the basins of still water emit nothing but a thin mist 
of vapor. Farther on, however, the mountain is all activity ; 
liquid columns all at once shine in the sun, and white cascades 
fall from terrace to terrace toward the river. Every moment the 
features of the landscape are being modified, and fresh voices 
take a part in the marvelous concert of the gushing springs. 

About the middle of the interval which separates the Lake 
of Taupo from the coast of Plenty Bay, several other volcanic 
pools are dotted about, all most remarkable for their thermal and 
jetting springs. One of them, however, is among the great 
wonders of the world. This is the Lake of Rotomahanna, a small 
basin of about 120 acres, the temperature of which, being raised 
by all the hot springs which feed it, is about 78 (Fahr.). Dr. 
von Hochstetter has not even attempted to count the basins, the 
funnels, and the fissures from which the water, steam-mud, and 
sulphurous gases make their escape. 

, 7) -H- <= 1 

DG Mowbray, Jay Henry 

828 Italy's great horror of 

M8 earthquake and tidal wave